City takes big step toward opening new homeless shelter on Ethan Way

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to pursue plans for a new homeless shelter with approximately 100 beds located in a parking lot at Cal Expo.

Tuesday’s vote authorized the City Manager to approve construction and operation of the proposed temporary shelter. The City currently is negotiating an agreement with Cal Expo for the use of Lot P, on Ethan Way near the intersection with Hurley Way.

If an agreement is reached, a prefabricated building known as a “Sprung shelter” could be placed at the site. The shelter would be “low-barrier,” meaning clients would be allowed to stay with their pets, partners and possessions. The City currently operates a similar shelter on Railroad Drive in North Sacramento.

“When you lower barriers, you can serve people who have not historically been served,” said City Homeless Services Coordinator Emily Halcon. “Our population (at Railroad) is older, sicker, and has more behavioral health issues. These are the people who have been outside the longest and are the most disconnected.”

The Ethan Way shelter would serve people experiencing homelessness who already live in the neighborhood. It would not be walk-up; people would be referred there by the Sacramento Police Department’s IMPACT team or by outreach workers. The shelter would have on-site case managers to connect clients with social and health services and help move them into more permanent housing.

In addition to operations of the site, the City would develop a plan in concert with the surrounding businesses for additional security and trash removal.

Total estimated cost for the design, construction and operation for the Ethan Way shelter for two years is $9.4 million, to be funded with approximately $4.2 million from state HEAP funds and $5.2 million from reserve Measure U funds.

The Ethan Way shelter could be operational as soon as six months after the City and Cal Expo reach an agreement, officials said. The City currently is exploring other sites around Sacramento for low-barrier shelters, including locations on Florin Road and on Broadway near the border of the Curtis Park and Oak Park neighborhoods.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced in December that he had asked his eight colleagues on the Council to each find a site or sites in their district that could be used to shelter 100 homeless people. Steinberg said the 8X100 approach would be the fastest and fairest way to scale up the City’s shelter capacity to meet the needs of the unsheltered population.

The Ethan Way shelter would be in Councilmember Jeff Harris’ district.



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