The holidays are a time to reflect, give back and help our community. And one of the significant ways that CVAG is doing that is through the CV Housing First program.
CV Housing First was launched in summer 2017 to help people who are homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless. The program is based on the philosophy that if someone has a stable housing situation, they can instead focus their attention on issues like maintaining employment, addressing addiction or keeping their family together. This program provides long-term solutions for clients by working to get them into a permanent housing destination. This is done includes an array of services such as rapid re-housing, homelessness prevention and special needs services.
CV Housing First includes on-the-street outreach teams staffed by Path of Life, including the one pictured here in Cathedral City. 
The program is working. 
CVAG released an independent analysis by the Health Assessment and Research for Communities (HARC, Inc.) of CV Housing First and the services being provided by its contractor, Path of Life Ministries. The study can be found on CVAG's website (www.cvag.org). It showed that, between July 1, 2017 and June 30, CV Housing First served 401 clients between CVAG funding and leveraged programs. The report stated that more than eight out of every 10 people exited the program to permanent housing. Another 11 percent went to temporary housing. 
Additionally, HARC found that clients' average monthly income increased from $629 to $1,496. About 70 percent of the clients have been homeless for more than 12 months out of the last three years.
The HARC analysis included services directly funded through CVAG as well as programs that are leveraged. This evaluation utilizes data that is already collected through the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), as well as a customized study demonstrating how Path of Life is working to address homelessness in the region, where gaps may exist, and what cost savings local government receives because of these programs.
This success wouldn't be possible without a collaborative approach.
CV Housing First has received more than $2 million in funding thanks in large part to the support of the Desert Healthcare District/ Foundation. The District/ Foundation not only contributed to the program, but also provided a dollar-for-dollar match for jurisdictions that committed at least $103,000. This partnership - one that brings together non-profits, local governments and the District/Foundation - has allowed CV Housing First to expand services and makes an even greater impact in the Coachella Valley.
If you know someone who needs help, we encourage them to contact the CV Housing First resource line at 760-601-5424.
The Coachella Valley milkvetch is one of 27 plants and animals protected under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. 

The Coachella Valley Conservation Commission (CVCC) - a sister agency to CVAG - is celebrating 10 years of managing the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
CVCC's conservation efforts include monitoring threatened and endangered species, including the desert tortoise.
After years of developing local partnerships and negotiating with state and federal wildlife agencies, the CVCC received the permit to manage the Plan in October 2008. The visionary 75-year Plan outlines a path to conserve nearly 240,000 acres of land valleywide and protect 27 plants and animals, including Peninsular bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. 
In exchange for guaranteeing habitat conservation, developers benefit from a streamlined environmental permit process and critical freeway projects and interchanges can get built without delays. 
In August 2016, the CVCC completed the Major Amendment, which incorporates the City of Desert Hot Springs and the Mission Springs Water District into the Plan. The Major Amendment ensures the Plan now covers the entire Coachella Valley, and it lowered the fees that were being charged on residential and commercial development.
The CVCC is ahead of schedule in terms of land acquisition. To date, the CVCC and its partners have secured more than 93,000 acres of core habitat and sand transport areas. 
CVAG is a regional planning agency coordinating the transportation plans, green energy programs, conservation efforts and social services. Be sure to follow our progress by liking us on Facebook and following @CVAGnews on Twitter.  
 
Cyclists enjoy the CV Link access point at Ramon Road.
Progress continues on CV Link, a 40-plus mile multi-modal pathway that will span from Palm Springs to Coachella.

A mile-long stretch of the pathway along the Tahquitz Creek near Demuth Park is being built in conjunction with Palm Springs. Construction is nearly complete and the pathway should be open later this month.

CVAG has been working on right-of-way acquisition all along the pathway. CVAG now has approved agreements with Coachella Valley Water District and with the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. In early 2019, CVAG anticipates announcing the next phases of construction. 

CVAG is also working with cities to pursue outside grants for development of community connectors, which are routes that will get pedestrians and cyclists to and from CV Link. Some of those connectors were recently profiled by KESQ. The story can be found
Drivers will start seeing new signals on major roadways next year as part of CVAG's signal synchronization effort.

The regional project implements data sharing technology and traffic management centers in order to get people from point A to point B safely and efficiently, regardless of which city they are traveling through. The goal is that motorists will experience fewer stops, which translates to reduced fuel consumption and reduced emissions, which improves air quality.

The project's first phase will improve travel along the three highest priority corridors identified in the Master Plan: Highway 111, Ramon Road and Washington Street. The next phase includes some of the most popular east-west and north-south streets, including Fred Waring Drive, Monterey Avenue, Gene Autry Trail, Date Palm Drive, Monroe Street and Vista Chino.

Plans are expected to be finalized in early 2019 with a construction bid package being released in the spring. CVAG anticipates overlapping construction of Phases I and II so that a seamless project is created, with the second phase completed by the end of 2021.