The City of Sacramento has opened its first “Safe Ground” site in a parking lot near W and Sixth streets in downtown Sacramento.
The new site, under the W/X portion of the Capital City Freeway, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can host approximately 100-150 people experiencing homelessness. The lot has two distinct spaces: One is for tent camping; the other is for safe parking for vehicles.
The site, which is staffed around the clock, offers port-a-potties and cleaning stations. Case managers will work out of trailers on site, providing support for mental-health needs and substance-use disorders as well as hotel vouchers and housing coordination.
Everyone utilizing the safe ground site will be entered into the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), connecting them with additional service providers in the area.
“The City and its community partners have worked incredibly hard to get this site up and running so quickly,” said Bridgette Dean, who leads the City’s Department of Community Response. “It will provide people with a place to safely stay and allow them access to critical resources that potentially will help them move into more permanent housing.”
The opening of the W/X Safe Ground coincides with Caltrans’ ongoing work to widen and remodel Highway 50. Because of that construction, people camping under other parts of the freeway were asked to move to a new location for their safety.
To help keep those people from moving into nearby areas, Dean and Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who represents the district, helped to negotiate an agreement with Caltrans to allow people to camp in the parking lot.
Over the past three weeks, the Department of Community Response, with the Hope Cooperative outreach team, have worked with Valenzuela’s office and community advocates to provide outreach in the impacted area.
Individuals were informed of upcoming Caltrans construction and the need to relocate to the City’s safe ground site or other areas. The outreach also has included a needs assessment, hotel vouchers and other resources, Dean said.
The City Council earlier this month unanimously approved a resolution by Mayor Darrell Steinberg to keep overnight shelters open year-round in the city regardless of the temperature and to expand their mission to include daytime hours and services to help people exit homelessness.
With the opening of the W/X Safe Ground, and other sites expected to launch soon, the City has started to phase out the two warming centers it has been operating at the downtown Library Galleria and the Sacramento Capitol City Seventh-Day Adventist Church in South Sacramento.
In the past few days, attendees have been given information about the new safe ground site as well as other resources, including motel vouchers. The warming centers will operate through March 31.