Esplanade House Background: the letter Webb and Incaudo sent to the CAA board back in October 2017

12 May

Here is a copy of the letter Gary Incaudo and Greg Webb submitted to the CAA board on 23 October, 2017.

Dear CAA Board Members,

It is with sadness and regret that we write this letter to members of the CAA Board of Directors concerning our contingent decision to withdraw our financial support for the Esplanade House.

Some of you may know that we, along with the help of Lynne Bussey, were the founders of The Esplanade House. It was over 26 years ago, in 1991, that we formulated this vision, teamed up with CAA, and opened our first 12 room shelter at a motel on The Esplanade. CAA had lacked the funding to develop a rehabilitation program for parents, and provide a safe place for children residing there. Consequently, we raised funds from the private sector to provide those services, hiring CSUC Professor Art Sanchez to do research, design, and development that is the foundation for the program today.

Unfortunately, our funds raised were misspent under CAA CEO Peter Kochaphum, so we incorporated our own 501 (c) 3 non-profit to safeguard monies that were earmarked for specific purposes, and the Esplanade House Children’s Fund was born.

By 1999, when we had three families waiting for every one family residing at Esplanade House, we embarked on an expansion project to fill the community need. Greg Webb purchased the current 60-unit property where the Esplanade House resides today, provided the building plans and construction, then sold it to CAA at cost. When neighbors insisted Esplanade House needed a permit to operate the program there, and tried to thwart our efforts, our Children’s Board and volunteers battled through the planning commission, and three special Chico City Council meetings that were packed with an angry “NIMBY” contingent. Thankfully, we prevailed.

Along with expanding the physical size of Esplanade House, our organization took on expanding the depth of the program with regard to a reasonable length of stay for families, work training, drug abuse counseling, GED programs, and parenting classes. CAA never seemed to have enough money for the critical programs that were needed if parents were to successfully break the cycle of welfare dependence and drug addiction.

As a Pediatrician, Gary worked with psychologists, professors at CSUC, public health officials, pediatricians, nursing students and graduate students to elevate the daycare center to a truly exceptional Child Development Center that housed over 100 children. He spoke at Churches, Rotary Clubs, Soroptimists, Exchange Clubs…every organization in Butte County. Lynne did annual fundraisers at the fairgrounds, golf tournaments, church dinners, car shows, dinner dances, holiday parties and countless newsletters and direct mail campaigns.

We have continued, throughout our 26 years, to solicit donations and services from our community, and when added to our personal donations now average over $150,000.00 a year. During that time, mostly through Greg’s efforts, we have established an endowment fund for homeless children as a community resource that currently exceeds $825,000. Greg has also been personally supporting the maintenance of the facility since its inception. This would include building the facility, directing general maintenance, providing repairs to appliances/cabinets and roofs, and recently getting the wall removal permit for the children’s center without architectural costs.

During the most recent “Housing First” generated funding crisis, when The Esplanade House was looking at closing its doors, we actively helped the administration seek funding alternatives. We offered our endowment fund as a means of continuing operations until another funding stream could be found. Gary has been networking with a national coalition of family and youth homeless programs and has testified twice in front of the California State Senate supporting bills that promote family homeless shelter funding. Through information provided by this networking, Gary suggested we look to the Butte County DESS for financial support in return for services since we often care for the same families. He then facilitated a relationship that provided a new source of funding and saved the EH from exhausting our endowment fund and closing. Gary continues to work with DESS to ensure they are getting the results they need to maintain this vital financial relationship. Gary is also working actively with a national coalition of family homeless programs and Congressman LaMalfa to re-establish a Federal funding stream for our facility. Meetings to mitigate this funding crisis are scheduled this month in Washington DC with HUD officials, Congressman LaMalfa’s staff and a coalition representative.

Other areas we are funding and currently in progress with:

• Most recently, we were the key players in the staffing and re-opening of our Children’s center that was briefly lost during the funding crisis. Greg spearheaded the new contract with Super Luper Kids.

• We have been funding 1/3 of a case manager and the child advocate for several years, and have committed to fund an additional case manager necessary to improve our rehabilitation program.

• As a Pediatrician, Gary realized the unique parenting challenges that formerly homeless children pose that are not addressed by the standard classes provided by the County. Through networking with local psychologists, he arranged with Butte College to provide the service at the Esplanade House at no cost. Now twice weekly parenting classes, designed specifically for parents whose children have experienced separation anxiety and homelessness, are available.

• We initiated a volunteer based health screening clinic for our families. With on campus access to health care professionals, our families will now get additional assistance for their children to treat any developmental and social/emotional problems not otherwise supported by the County.

• The Children’s fund board, in conjunction with the Site Supervisor, has also been the driving force behind the resurrection of a more comprehensive computer lab, computer services, computer access and computer training for both adults and children. Our board is providing additional computers, software, laptops, and Chrome Books for our families to advance their education.

• Most recently, we have begun networking with local churches to provide a volunteer coordinator, a men’s support group coordinator, and to initiate regular monthly donations of food, clothing, household goods and dollars to help our families.

• Our future plans included funding and support for psychological testing and therapy for our children not available through the County.

• We have served as the conduit for integrating volunteers from the community and working with professional’s from CSUC.

Except for the leadership provided by Tom Dearmore and Tim Hawkins, we have become increasingly frustrated with the quality of the CAA administration at The Esplanade House. The Esplanade House has experienced years and years of repetitive turnover of key personnel, including two site supervisors, who all tell us after leaving that the administrative atmosphere was a key reason and sometimes the only reason for their departure.

What we want to see happen by December 1, 2017

a. Establish a separate board to manage the EH program and personnel, preferably with another non-profit organization. 

b. All day-to-day operational and personnel decisions are to be made by the Program Manager who reports to the Chief Programs officer.

c. The Chief Executive officer will no longer be involved in any of these decisions.

d. A decision was made long ago to sacrifice one of our apartments for a food storage area and, therefore deny critical services to a family with children. This was done to provide the Chief Executive officer with a large office and sitting area. This decision is in direct violation of the bank loan agreement, as identified by the recent bank inspection, and jeopardizes the integrity of that loan. This apartment must be immediately returned to its original purpose of providing shelter and aid to a homeless family as outlined in the loan agreement.

e. CAA is to physically remove their offices from the Esplanade House to another site.

f. Since the Chief Executive Officer delayed signing the operational agreement for the children’s center, the center was late opening and missed a vital window to enroll children this summer. We agree to support the Children’s Center operational deficit until they can enroll sufficient children to cover their expenses.

We have come to a crossroad. If we can’t work out an acceptable partnership with CAA and/or find a new non-profit partner to help us run the program by December 1, 2017, we will be compelled to withdraw all our support for the Esplanade House and notify our donors that we no longer have confidence in CAA as a managing partner. Consequently, the Children’s Fund will start redirecting our funding and volunteer efforts to other programs that address family and childhood poverty and homelessness in Butte County.

Sincerely,

Gary A. Incaudo, MD Greg Webb

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