Two leaders from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness last week visited the City of Sacramento’s Miller Park safe ground site, which helps to shelter and support people experiencing homelessness.
In Sacramento for a housing conference, Executive Director Jeff Olivet and Western Regional Coordinator Helene Schneider, took a tour at Miller Park and met with staff from the Department of Community Response.
The Miller Park safe ground site is considered “low-barrier,” meaning the City and its operator make it as accessible and user friendly as possible, minimizing barriers to entry such as strict eligibility requirements. People are able to participate in the safe ground program with their pets, partners and possessions.
“The ability to have a low-barrier option for people to get assistance is essential,” Schneider said during the tour. “The challenge, I understand, is what is the flow into permanent housing? I know that’s a constant struggle, but top of mind.”
The Miller Park safe ground site, which opened Feb. 8, currently has 60 tents and serves approximately 70 people. Eighteen people have already exited the program into more positive settings including options such as an indoor shelter, supportive housing, or reunification with family members and five are in permanent housing. The site also works to connect participants with all available resources and services.
“There is a great need for more mental health and substance use disorder treatment,” DCR’s Director of Homeless Services Nick Golling said during the tour. “We need more places like Miller Park that make it easier for some people to accept help and begin to access the Continuum of Care, but we absolutely need more options for people to consider once they are stabilized here. At the same time, we must also establish comprehensive programs including transitional housing and other options so that we can increase the flow out of homelessness and into housing.”
Miller Park safe ground is not seen as a permanent solution, Golling said, but for now, it is providing a safe, low-barrier place for people to become more stable while the access other services and resources.