Once this news outlet exposed claims of sexual misconduct and discrimination by Eileen Richardson and Chris Richardson, the mother-son duo in charge of Downtown Streets Team (DST), a host of local governments promised to re-evaluate their dealings with the homeless services provider.
While officials from South Bay cities expressed shock and dismay at the allegations, they came as no surprise to the County of Santa Clara, which only decided to reconsider its ties to DST after the critical publicity.
County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Office of Supportive Housing Director Ky Le heard about the troubling accusations from former DST employee Zia MacWilliams back in May. Fly learned just a few days ago that the county struck up a one-year deal with DST anyway, hiring the non-profit as part of an $860,000 initiative to help CalFresh recipients find gainful employment.
Ly failed to mention that when we asked him about any pending DST allocations. Deputy County Counsel Tony LoPresti alerted us to it on Dec. 20, saying that because we sent our request for all DST contracts on Sept. 27 and the deal was signed on Oct. 4, it fell outside the scope of the search.
Though Ly provided information current as of the end of September, he waited exactly 10 days to respond to Fly’s email.
“Specifically, you requested copies of contracts that the County of Santa Clara has with Downtown Streets Team,” he wrote on Oct. 7. “After conducting a search, I have determined that the county does not have any contracts with Downtown Streets Team.”
“Is there a pending contract with DST?” we asked that same day.
“No,” he replied. “We had been working on a contract with DST for a culinary training program, but last week, DST withdrew.”
Technically, he was right.
By the time Ly responded, there were no pending contracts because the CalFresh partnership was signed and sealed three days prior.
LoPresti excused the mix-up by saying Ly didn’t know about the CalFresh agreement.
“This is a separate contract from the one Mr. [Ly] was communicating with you about,” LoPresti said, “and we are actively reviewing our options with regards to this contract in light of the allegations against DST’s leadership.”