Outreach teams from the City’s Department of Community Response helped 26 people experiencing homelessness move into safer living situations over a two-day span this week, including 10 people who were living on the sidewalk along Stockton Boulevard.
The focused outreach effort began the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 13. On Wednesday and Thursday, DCR teams helped 11 people who were ready to transition from the City’s Safe Ground organized campground at 6th and X streets to the new X Street Navigation Center near Broadway and Alhambra. Another five people moved into the navigation center from nearby encampments.
Teams also conducted focused outreach efforts with people living on the sidewalk in the 5300 block of Stockton Boulevard. They contacted all 11 people camping there, and 10 of them agreed to move to the Safe Ground site. DCR teams helped them pack their possessions and drove them to Safe Ground. They now have a safer, more secure place to live, access to food, water, sanitation and showers. In addition, they will receive support to stabilize their lives and work toward permanent housing.
“When we have open shelter spaces to work with, we can help people get off the streets and into a much better situation,” said Bridgette Dean, director of the Department of Community Response. “Safe Ground and the X Street Center aren’t meant to be permanent housing, but they do give us low-barrier options for people who are currently living with no support at all. And the services they receive help them move toward permanent housing.”
Mayor Darrell Steinberg applauded the DCR staff and said he hoped its success could be replicated to help people experiencing homelessness while at the same time responding to neighborhood concerns about the effects of unsheltered homelessness.
“In any given situation, we must not make a decision to move people from where they are until we have made a focused effort to offer them every resource we can identify at that time,” Steinberg said.
The people who moved to the X Street Navigation Center from Safe Ground on Wednesday included a disabled person who goes by the name “Magic.” DCR Teams were able to obtain a wheelchair for him to improve his mobility. Another woman was able to transition from Safe Ground to an open spot in the City’s Meadowview Navigation Center.
DCR Teams also were able to persuade a woman they had been working with for weeks to accept a spot in the X Street Navigation Center. She had been living across the street from the shelter, and she and her possessions had been the subject of many complaints from residents. She was not immediately receptive to DCR’s offers of shelter, but after DCR worked with her and built trust, she was ready.
The successful efforts on Stockton Boulevard followed months of outreach to unsheltered people there as well as engagement with residents, local advocates and business owners regarding the long-existing encampment that initially was on private property. DCR staff will return to Stockton Boulevard to again extend the offer of placement in open beds and spaces to any remaining individuals.
With a limited number of Safe Ground and other shelter sites, DCR does not always have the ability to transition people off the street and into a shelter close by. DCR will continue to work with people experiencing homelessness across the city to offer them better housing options when and where they are available.