Following months of diligent and deliberate work by elected officials and staff, the City and County of Sacramento on Thursday announced a partnership agreement to provide greater outreach, shelter and services to people experiencing homelessness, particularly within the boundaries of the City of Sacramento.
The five-year agreement identifies roles and responsibilities of the City and County and demonstrates a shared commitment to reducing unsheltered homelessness through systems-level changes and strategies identified by the recently adopted Local Homeless Action Plan. It includes joint outreach teams, hundreds of additional shelter beds and a commitment to do “whatever it takes” to meet the behavioral and mental health needs of people experiencing homelessness.
Both the City Council and the Board of Supervisors are scheduled to vote on the agreement at their Dec. 6 meetings.
“This comprehensive partnership agreement represents a fundamental breakthrough on our city’s homeless problem,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “For the first time, the City and County together will fund consistent and intensive outreach and engagement in the largest tent encampments. That engagement, combined with a new County commitment to do whatever it takes to help and serve people in the greatest need, is the best hope and strategy we’ve ever had to make this problem better. I’m grateful to all who worked so hard to make it happen.”
“We’re thrilled to have this partnership memorialized between the County of Sacramento and the City of Sacramento to continue and expand the services needed to help address homelessness,” said District Two Supervisor Patrick Kennedy “While County has been serving unhoused individuals in the unincorporated areas of the County as well as in the City of Sacramento for many years, we need to expand programs and services to meet the growing need.”
As part of the agreement, the City and County will create 10 new “encampment engagement teams”– staffed by workers from both organizations — to provide intensive outreach, assessment, navigation, service delivery and housing to as many people as possible in encampments within the City limits. Teams will include mental health workers from the County who have the ability and qualifications to provide a behavioral health assessment and enroll or link people to an appropriate level of mental health and substance use services.
The City has identified the initial locations for intense intervention based on its assessment of which camps present the greatest health and safety risk. While it will take six months to ramp up the full 10 teams, City and county teams have already begun working together in top-priority sites in advance of the agreement’s adoption.
In its role, the City will be responsible for determining which sites the encampment engagement teams will be deployed to each day, conducting initial outreach and coordinating City services, such as solid waste removal, code enforcement and public safety protocol. County behavioral health workers will conduct behavioral health assessments in the field and in City shelters and enroll people in services. They will have the ability to write 5150 holds and petition the court to require people to receive outpatient treatment under Laura’s Law.
The County, through the agreement, also will commit to establishing and funding a new Community Outreach Recovery Empowerment (CORE) Behavioral Health Center within City limits and expanding its substance use disorder residential treatment.
In addition, the County will commit to adding 200 shelter beds within 12 months and 200 more shelter beds within 36 months. If the City provides a shovel-ready site, the County will agree to operate 200 additional shelter beds within the City.
The agreement also sets forth provisions for accountability and measuring progress with reports in open session to both the City Council and County Board of Supervisors.
The agreement was developed through meetings by a group of elected officials known as the “4X2.” Steinberg, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Guerra, Councilmember Jay Schenirer and Councilmember Jeff Harris represented the City in this group; Kennedy and County Supervisor Rich Desmond represented the County. City and County staff — including City Manager Howard Chan and County Executive Ann Edwards — also played a significant role in the development of the agreement.
The agreement between the City and County is a key component of “Measure O: City Of Sacramento Emergency Shelter And Enforcement Act Of 2022,” which was on the November ballot and looks likely to pass, according to results released by County election officials.