A delegation from the City and County of Sacramento recently visited Haven for Hope, a nationally recognized program for people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio, Texas.
The program, which serves hundreds of people simultaneously, offers a full spectrum of programs, services and shelter all on one self-contained campus.
“It’s been eye-opening to come to Haven for Hope,” City Councilmember Jeff Harris said while visiting the site. “They have aggregated their services in one location. They’ve put together physical services — mental and behavioral health services — all together. They have a courtyard campus model, which is unique, and I think really effective.”
Harris said that many of the same programs and services already exist in Sacramento, but not all in the same location.
Sacramento County Supervisor Rich Desmond also travelled to San Antonio and noted the importance of offering a one-stop-shop. “It makes it much more likely that we can get folks connected with the services they need,” he said. “And that’s where they (Haven for Hope) see such success in changing the arc of folks’ lives.”
Haven for Hope offers space on its campus to more than 70 social service agencies and non-profits. Once someone enters the Haven for Hope system, they can receive help with everything from health and dental care to job training and placement.
Haven for Hope’s campus includes “the courtyard,” a low-barrier safe place where people to escape the elements, get meals and water, use bathrooms and showers and have access to other basic services. If they need a place to stay overnight, admission into “the courtyard” includes indoor areas where they can sleep.
Many people who initially stay in the courtyard become connected to services that help them transition into Haven for Hope’s supportive housing and later permanent housing.
Bridgette Dean, director of the City’s Department of Community Response, coordinated the fact-finding trip for a small group of community leaders after visiting the campus herself earlier this year.
“I had heard about Haven for Hope, and when I saw it for myself, I knew we had to bring some other people from Sacramento to see the campus model,” Dean said. “One of the hardest things about really helping people who are experiencing homelessness is coordinating their progression from one program or housing setting to another. Haven for Hope has a model that works.”
The City and County representatives who participated in the trip said they now will evaluate the information gathered to determine if any elements of the Haven for Hope model could work in Sacramento.