The City of Sacramento opened its first “safe ground” sites this past spring with the goal of providing safer, cleaner living for people experiencing homelessness.
Now that these sites have been operating for six months, what have been the outcomes so far?
The safe camping/parking site at near W and Sixth streets and the safe parking site on Front Street near Miller Park were not designed to be long-term solutions for unsheltered residents, said Bridgette Dean, director of the City’s Department of Community Response.
Instead, the sites offer a safe place for people to stay either in a tent or a vehicle while accessing other resources that can help them escape the cycle of homelessness.
To date, the two sites have served approximately 370 people. Staff at these sites have been able to help 85 people move on into better housing options, reuniting some with family and connecting others to housing resources, Dean said.
Since they opened, the sites — which are considered “low barrier,” in that they accept people as they are — have remained full.
“Safe ground is not intended to be a long-term solution for anyone,” Dean said. “In addition to food, water and shelter, the sites offer stability, safety, security, sanitation and access to services and resources that can help people get into more permanent housing.”
“Most of the people we’re serving in these locations — 66 percent — are chronically homeless,” said Nick Golling, manager of Homeless Services for DCR, who oversees the two sites. “This means that they have been experiencing homelessness for a year or more, or they have three times or more over the past four years and are living with disability of some kind.
“According to the Homeless Service Information System, 70 percent of the people served have never had any kind of homeless services before, Golling added. “That’s why the low-barrier, safe-ground approach is so important. It allows us to start building trust with people.”
In addition to the safe ground and safe parking sites, the City recently opened the X Street Navigation Center to shelter up to 100 people experiencing homelessness. The City also continues to operate its motel voucher program that shelters nearly 500 people and implement its Comprehensive Siting Plan to address homelessness.
Approved by the City Council in August, the plan designates priority sites across the city for transitional housing, congregate shelters, sleeping-cabin communities, organized campgrounds and safe parking.
Each of the temporary housing options will offer services designed to help people find permanent housing and exit homelessness, officials said.