Miller Park Safe Ground to reopen with travel trailers for people experiencing homelessness

The former Miller Park safe camping ground for people experiencing homelessness will resume operations later this month using 15 large travel trailers previously deployed at Cal Expo for quarantine housing during the pandemic.

Sacramento County will continue to provide mental-health assessments and referrals at the Miller Park site, which will be run by First Step Communities under its existing contract with the City.

Miller Park previously provided emergency shelter in 60 tents, but they had to be removed because of the severe storms that struck the region in January. The City operates Miller Park in coordination with the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and is required to evacuate when certain water levels are reached.

Everyone who previously had been staying at the Miller Park Safe Ground prior to its evacuation in January was offered reasonable indoor accommodations. This includes spots at the City’s Outreach and Engagement Center. Additionally, the County’s Homeless Encampment and Response Team (HEART) program provided phone services as needed to those displaced from Miller Park after it closed during the storms.

The safe camping site is limited to 15 trailers by fire and safety regulations. The spacious trailers were supplied by the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom in April 2020 as part of the state’s emergency COVID response. Each trailer sleeps up to three people.

“It has always been our intention to reopen the Miller Park site in partnership with the County of Sacramento,” said City Manager Howard Chan. “I would like to thank the County for its collaboration on this effort, and we look forward to announcing and implementing additional strategies to address homelessness in the near future.”

The trailers at Miller Park are intended to operate temporarily while the City and County work together to identify longer-term sources of emergency shelter that will add hundreds of beds to City’s current inventory of more than 1,100.

“Our new partnership agreement with the county gives us the best chance we’ve had to visibly reduce the amount of people living unsheltered in our city, but we can’t navigate people off the streets if we have nowhere for them to go,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “In addition to Miller Park, we will continue to work alongside the County to open more short and long-term emergency shelter.”

Under the partnership agreement approved in December, the City and County are combining their resources in new outreach teams that include mental health workers who can assess people in the field. There are currently three teams working in the City of Sacramento, with another seven set to come online within six months. The teams are currently focusing on outreach along the W/X and Business 80 freeway corridors.

“I’m thrilled to be moving forward with trailers in Miller Park,” said Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, whose District 4 includes Miller Park.  “The safe ground at Miller Park has been an incredible resource, allowing us to address the urgency of the homelessness crisis in our community. This new setup will provide guests with a much better experience with climate control and other amenities that were not previously available. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve at this site moving forward with First Step Communities and our partners at the County.”

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