City Council adopts comprehensive plan for homeless housing solutions

The Sacramento City Council Tuesday unanimously adopted a plan to create more than 5,000 beds, roofs and safe camping spaces to mount a comprehensive response to the growing crisis of homelessness.

The plan is the product of more than six months of intensive outreach and work by the Mayor’s Office, City Councilmembers and City staff. Now that Council has approved the list of sites and strategies, it will be the job of City staff to carry them out.

“I am so proud of the City Council for their commitment of time and resources since January to evaluate every possible site for safe parking, Safe Ground, temporary shelter and transitional housing,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Members pored over maps, drove their districts, toured sites, and met with property owners and agencies in control of the sites. Their exhaustive outreach to the community was unprecedented, even during a pandemic, and created a better plan with a realistic chance for progress.”

City Manager Howard Chan said he would return to the Council within two weeks to share the implementation plan which will be developed with the newly-formed Department of Community Response (DCR) who leads the City’s efforts to address homelessness.

“The Department of Community Response will be coordinating with other city departments as part of the siting plan implementation process,” said Bridgette Dean, director of the Department of Community Response. “DCR is looking forward to bringing this plan to reality and providing our unhoused community members the access to shelter, services and stability that they have long needed and deserved.”

Twenty properties, 15 of them publicly owned, are designated as priority sites for transitional housing, congregate shelters, tiny home communities and organized campgrounds. Each of the temporary housing options will offer services designed to help people find permanent housing and exit homelessness. In addition to specific sites, the plan identifies programmatic solutions that include motel conversions, increased housing voucher usage, scattered site housing and a larger campus whose location will be determined later in 2021.

Tier 2 sites require more vetting with property owners and the community.

The siting plan is paired with a financing framework expected to total about $100 million over two years, most of it from new state and federal resources, including the 2021 state budget and the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The resolution approved by the Council directs the City to build the housing options in consultation with the Urban Land Institute, which has made design and architectural recommendations. The plan also describes the need to establish a good neighbor policy or set of community agreements to ensure the safety of residents, neighbors and providers. These agreements will contain specific standards for operations, security, cleanliness and community involvement. The plan’s appendix includes a template for future use and three existing good neighbor policy documents.

While Mayor Steinberg conceived of the plan, Councilmembers were tasked with identifying sites in their individual districts and vetting them with the community in a series of meetings, presentations and workshops.

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