City’s Outreach and Engagement Center opens full time to help people experiencing homelessness

The City of Sacramento on Thursday, Sept. 29, will open its Outreach and Engagement Center full time to help people experiencing homelessness.

Located in what used to be the Powerhouse Science Center and Museum, the Outreach and Engagement Center (3615 Auburn Blvd.) will provide overnight respite for up to 50 people at a time and offer connections to other resources that can lead to more stable and sustainable housing.

The center previously was being used as a weather-based respite location and was open for 10 consecutive days during the early September heatwave.

Starting Thursday, it will be open 23 hours a day, seven days a week, and staffed round the clock.

“Sacramento needs more places where people living without shelter can go to have their basic needs met, such as food, water, hygiene, and respite from the elements,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “There is no simple fix for homelessness, but this facility and the services we will offer here will help people get indoors and lead more stable and productive lives. That’s a win for them and for our community.”

Walk-up entry is not allowed at the center. Instead, outreach teams from the City’s Department of Community Response refer clients into the facility, which is being operated by Hope Cooperative, a non-profit organization.

Caseworkers from Hope Cooperative can connect clients with health care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and other services. They will also be able to connect clients with housing opportunities.

All potential clients will be assessed to make sure they are a good fit for that setting, officials said. The center can accept a limited number of pets, and it has space to store personal belongings while guests acclimate to a new, more stable environment.

The average stay at the center is expected to be days — not weeks or months, said Nick Golling, manager of homeless Services for the Department of Community Response.

“This is not a long-term shelter, but it will allow us to work alongside people to identify barriers to housing and match them up with the available resources,” he said. “This facility is going to be an important part of Sacramento’s approach to helping people connect with benefits and find sustainable housing.”

“You can’t overestimate how stressful it is living unsheltered on the street, not knowing if you are safe, or where you will sleep that night,” said Erin Johansen, executive director of Hope Cooperative. “That’s why providing that safe environment is so important. After a few days of safety and stability, guests are more able to consider the next steps that will lead to long-term solutions.”

For more information about what the City is doing to address homelessness — including its Safe Ground, Safe Parking, shelters and motel programs — click here. 

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