City Council approves applying for State homeless aid totaling $20 million

“The funds will enable us to reach more people, and at the same time help our neighborhoods stay safe and clean.”

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night unanimously voted to move ahead with an application to two new State programs that would result in nearly $20 million to address local homelessness.

The funds come from the State’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program, or HEAP, and the California Emergency Solution and Housing Program, or CESH.

The City has spent the past several weeks working collaboratively with Sacramento County and Sacramento Steps Forward — the non-profit agency that coordinates homeless resources in the region – to access the funds. That has included holding workshops with a variety of community stakeholders.

“This partnership with the County and these State funds are keys to offering more help to unsheltered people in our communities with better access to housing and services,” said Emily Halcon, the City’s Homeless Services Coordinator. “The funds will enable us to reach more people, and at the same time help our neighborhoods stay safe and clean.”

The City plans to use money to expand existing shelter programs, launch a new triage shelter modeled on the current one operating on Railroad Avenue, increase youth sheltering options and operate Downtown Streets Team, which trains and employs homeless people in neighborhood clean-up crews. The County plans to use the funds to expand family and scattered-site shelters and create and implement a “flexible housing pool” that identifies and assists people in need of rehousing.

The State programs were created when Gov. Jerry Brown included $553 million in one-time funding in California’s budget to address homelessness. The City is expected to administer more than $7 million of the funding. The County is expected to administer approximately $11 million. In addition, SSF plans to use $1 million of the funding to improve communication and collaboration among service providers, both public and private.

To receive HEAP funding, local jurisdictions are required to declare a “shelter crisis.” Declaring a shelter crisis signals that a significant number of people in a certain jurisdiction do not have access to shelter, and the situation is causing a health and safety issue.

The County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed its declaration, allowing people experiencing homelessness in the unincorporated County to be eligible for services through HEAP. The City Council is expected to vote on its declaration Oct. 30.

Earlier Tuesday, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the City’s current strategy of using a “low-barrier” approach to get chronically homeless people off the street. The approach allows people to enter shelters with their partners, pets and possessions and doesn’t require sobriety.

The City’s triage shelter on Railroad Avenue, which opened in December, uses that approach. To date it has served more than 600 people.

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