Close to $3.1 million investment of city and federal tax dollars proposed to shelter and guide homeless population toward permanent housing and services.

The Sacramento City Council is scheduled to weigh in on five items on Oct. 24 that expand the stock of homeless shelter space and create wrap-around supportive services. The proposed agreements all meet the “housing first” principles ­-  low barrier access with medical, mental health and social services offered to help the homeless population find permanent homes and avoid returning to homelessness.

The City recognizes the important role that emergency triage shelters play in helping move people of out homelessness and into permanent housing. Triage shelters identify individual needs and get the client on the best route to self-sufficiency. Providing support services is equally important to increase the odds of the person remaining housed.

The City Council will consider dedicating $1.32 million in City taxpayer funds coupled with federal funds for a total $3.07 million comprehensive investment in shelters and services.

Some 3,600 homeless in Sacramento County

At the most recent point-in-time count of January 2017, there were 3665 people experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County. Since 2015, Sacramento Steps Forward estimates a real growth in nightly homeless of approximately 30 percent (from 2,822 to 3,665). The majority of homeless (56 percent) in the county are sleeping outdoors, unsheltered – a dramatic change in proportion from previous point-in-time counts.

The City received some 3,300 calls to 311 about illegal encampments between May, 2016 and today. Additionally, the City disposes of tens of thousands of cubic yards of debris from illegal encampments, needles, human feces and garbage each year.

Providing more shelters also affords the guests access to restrooms, which is a public health and safety issue for the entire community.  Recently, there have been outbreaks of hepatitis A in other California cities.

Items to address homelessness in council agenda

  • Start engagement now with City’s most vulnerable population

This proposal would expand outreach and case management to reach 125-250 clients that tend to be the most frequent users of emergency health care and homeless services. It would allow Sacramento Covered, a service provider, to hit the ground running and launch the $64 million Pathways to Health & Home program. That program, approved last June, makes use of $32 million in local funds and $32 million in federal funds to create a robust system of outreach, case management, and supportive services for those frequent users of health care, homeless services, and City emergency services.

  • Open a temporary winter triage shelter from December 2017 through March 2018

The Mayor and Council will vote on whether to spend $996,000 to lease and allow Volunteers of America to operate an industrial facility on 1900 Railroad Drive in north Sacramento as a one-season triage shelter. Up to 200 beds will be available at this 24/7 shelter operation. The City expects the operator to conduct their business in a courteous manner by limiting disturbances and nuisances from operations and patrons, and to act as members of the community by making themselves available to respond to complaints and by participating in neighborhood/community meetings.

  • Purchase property for a permanent shelter

The City is considering spending $175,000 to purchase the industrial property located at 936 Arden Way in north Sacramento and come up with a homeless sheltering plan. More funds will be needed later to prepare the space and hire an operator. This may be the first, but not only, permanent shelter to be opened by the City.

  • Continue funding two established downtown shelters

The Mayor and Council will consider dedicating $511,000 for the Center of Hope Emergency Shelter to continue ongoing shelter operations. They also will consider an agreement with Volunteers of America for an amount of up to $355,000 for the A Street Men’s Shelter to continue its on-going shelter operation to serve 600 people per year.

  • 20 more shelter beds for youth ages 18-24, year-round, not just in the winter

$143,750 of City funds are proposed to help Wind Youth Services make use of a $575,000 two-year California Office of Emergency Services grant. The program engages youth experiencing homelessness who need refuge from the unsafe conditions on the streets. Wind Youth Services is Sacramento’s only homeless youth-focused street outreach team and the city’s only drop-in center and emergency shelter for homeless youth. The money will provide an additional 20 beds (up from 12) for people ages 18-24, year-round.

The Oct. 24 City Council meeting starts at 5 p.m. in Council Chambers, 915 I Street. Please see the Council agenda for additional information on the items to be discussed.