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Affluent liberal town protests homeless shelter during ‘rowdy’ council meeting: House them ‘in the rural areas of California instead’
San Mateo County Executive Mike Callagy (Image Source: KNTV video screenshot)

Affluent liberal town protests homeless shelter during ‘rowdy’ council meeting: House them ‘in the rural areas of California instead’

A recent city council meeting in an affluent, liberal California town descended into chaos after hundreds of residents protested a proposed homeless shelter.

Residents from Millbrae, a Bay Area town located 15 miles south of San Francisco, showed up to Friday’s council meeting to tell San Mateo County leaders that they disapproved of a proposed project that would convert a hotel into a homeless shelter. The community center was filled to its 300-person capacity, with many additional residents standing outside.

The proposed plan, if approved, would turn a La Quinta hotel into a 99-unit apartment complex for vetted homeless individuals. The project is estimated to cost roughly $33 million.

Jordan Grimes, the political director of Peninsula Young Democrats, shared videos from the event on X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to Grimes, County Executive Mike Callagy explained to the residents that Millbrae lacks affordable housing options.

The average home price in the town is $1.9 million, the New York Post reported. Grimes noted that the median household income in the area is $141,000 per year.

During the city council meeting, residents shouted over Callagy multiple times, Grimes stated.

“They’re worried about crime, they’re worried about assaults, they’re worried about drugs and mental health impacting the neighborhoods,” Callagy said. “That has just not been our experience.”

One resident reportedly asked, “Can’t you house homeless people in the rural areas of California instead? Why should they live here?”

“Things are getting *real* rowdy. A woman is refusing to step down from the podium after her minute speaking, saying she deserves more time since she organized a petition that got 5,000 signatures. Tons of screaming, cheering for her, booing the county, etc.,” Grimes posted on X at the time of the meeting.

Some residents held signs in protest of the project. One sign stated, “Don’t bully Millbrae.” Another read, “Keep our children and seniors safe.”

Ho Yeung, a Millbrae resident, told KNTV that the proposed shelter is “very close to children.”

“It’s a block from three schools. So we don’t want to see that,” Yeung said.

Another Millbrae resident, Patricia Lam, told the outlet that the town is “concerned about this project.”

“The reason why is because it’s right in the heart of Millbrae,” Lam added.

If approved, the homeless shelter will be operated by Episcopal Community Services, a nonprofit organization.

ECS spokesperson Beth Stokes stated, “Essentially, folks will be living in an apartment. In terms of safety, ECS will have 24/7 staffing on site. We also will have case management staffing. And that’s what supportive housing is. It’s services.”

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