Morongo Basin Homeless Children’s Benefit RAISES OVER $10,000

By Lisa Lynn Morgan

The conversation about the mass of short-term residential properties and their effect on the Morongo Basin has been long and heated. Complaints of neighborhoods and communities disappearing, the reduction in local tax revenue, disruptive visitors, artificially inflated property values, and more, is ever ongoing. But for many, the impact has been catastrophic. According to Wayne Hamilton, Morongo Unified School District Community Outreach Coordinator, there are 292 students identified by district standards as homeless. “Some we don’t have identified,” shared Hamilton, “because they don’t come forward and tell us they’re homeless. They’re afraid that there will be retaliation. We’re trying to get the word out that it’s not the case so they can come forward and we can help them. It’s not a crime to be displaced or homeless.”

From Our Partners

When Children of War fundraiser organizer, Robbi Robb, was shown a short documentary made by filmmaker Bonnie Hawthorne and produced by Stacy Doolittle and Janet Johnston of Morongo Basin Conservation Association, he was immediately compelled to do something about it. “The film, Joshua Tree Short Term Rental Housing Crisis, highlighted the terrible impact that short-term rentals are having on the Morongo Basin,” shared Robb. “One of the effects is that (by the film’s count) 700 children in this little corner of our world are left unhoused and homeless. Stacy and I got going with the Homeless Children of the Morongo Basin Benefit. On December 14, 2022, we produced live shows and commentaries that were live streamed in a ‘zoom-a-thon.’ Comedians, musicians, dancers, performance artists, and the Morongo Basin community came together in full force, and everyone gave and gave and gave. At this moment, we have generated more than $12,000. All funds raised will be distributed through the Morongo Unified School District’s homeless liaison, Wayne Hamilton.”

“A lot of people say, ‘We don’t see homeless families out here,’” shared Hamilton during the zoom-a-thon. “We cover 1,400 square miles, and the displaced are spread out all over that area. We have families living in cars, hotels, or other temporary housing.”

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years,” Hamilton stressed. “15 years ago, we used to have landlords that would call us and say, ‘Hey, we have empty housing if you have families we can help.’ That has changed with all the STRs and inflated prices of property out here.”

In a follow up interview with JTV, Hamilton expounded: “I think we need the community to understand the demographics and the population of the Morongo Basin. For many years the area was known for its low-cost housing. Families or retirees were able to live comfortably on a low or fixed income. Then the pandemic and the short-term rental explosion came along. We lost about 2,000 local rental units off the market and the families that were able to move away did. The low to very low-income folks are losing housing and are becoming displaced. Not only have rental prices gone up, but the increase in property values also induced many landlords to sell their rental properties, and families who had experienced stable housing for as many as 15 years suddenly had to find new places to live. With many landlords requiring an income that is three times the rent, plus large deposits, and competition for the few available units, families are having a hard time moving back into sustainable housing.”


According to Hamilton, “Attend city and town council, and Board of Supervisors meetings. Be aware of what steps the cities and counties are taking. Reach out to the City, Town, and Board of Supervisors to find out what they are doing regarding homelessness in the area:”

Yucca Valley Planning Commission:

Twentynine Palms Planning Commission:

San Bernardino County Planning Commission:

“If you know of families that have been displaced, let them know that homelessness is not a crime,” Hamilton continued. “The school district has a program to keep the students in their school of origin and provide transportation for the remainder of the academic year if it is in the best interests of the student. Help is available to assist with a referral for services as well as replacing required documents.”

“Volunteers are needed to help locally,” added Hamilton. “Teams of three go out into the community to survey unhoused people, and those numbers go to the county. Anyone with questions or who would like to volunteer can give me a call at (760) 401-0375

Donations to the Morongo Basin Homeless Children Benefit can still be made at

From Our Partners