The City of Sacramento’s new Outreach and Engagement Center on Auburn Boulevard played a key role in responding to the record-breaking heat wave that enveloped California in early September.
“We activated the center as a place to find respite from the heat starting Sept. 1,” said Nick Golling, director of Homeless Services for the City’s Department of Community Response. “It was open for nine consecutive days, and we extended its hours when we saw that it wasn’t cooling down much at night. We were very pleased to see how it was able to help people in need and serve the community.”
Over that nine-day period, the center saw a total of 141 person-days of utilization. At its high point, 31 people were using the 50-person capacity cooling center.
In addition to offering people a place to cool down, the center also serves as a place where people can access important services. One person who had been living in a vehicle who visited the center was reconnected with social-security services and placed in a permanent board and care facility, Golling said.
“This turned out to be a good way for the City and Hope Cooperative — the non-profit agency contracted to run the center — to put this facility through a shakedown cruise,” he said. “We learned a lot, and we will be ready for when the Outreach and Engagement Center opens as a daily operation.”
Later this month, the City will open the doors to the center for 23 hours a day regardless of the weather. DCR will refer people experiencing homelessness into the facility so they can rest and recover.
“When people are afraid because they don’t have a safe place to sleep at night, or they haven’t had anything to eat in couple of days, they can’t make good decisions or plan for the future,” Golling said.
The Outreach and Engagement Center (3615 Auburn Blvd.) will meet basic needs for food, water, safety and hygiene, and its staff will connect people to other resources and help them decide what their next step should be. For more information on what the City is doing to address homelessness, click here.
The City in early September also extended the hours of operation at its community centers to help people escape the heat.