City of Sacramento broadens weather criteria for activating respite centers

The Sacramento City Council on Aug. 1 voted unanimously to amend criteria on when to activate weather respite centers for residents, broadening it to include wind events and address issues such as air quality.

The amended criteria was proposed by Councilmembers Katie Valenzuela and Caity Maple.

“By expanding the weather respite criteria, the City will be able to provide additional protection from Sacramento’s diverse and extreme weather and climate events” said Nick Golling, Homeless Services Manager for the City of Sacramento.

The City will now activate weather respite centers during any National Weather Service extreme weather events.

For cold weather, respite centers can now open during the following situations:

  • A 50% or higher probability of nighttime lows of 37 degrees or lower for two or more days within a five-day span.
  • Rain for two or more consecutive days (forecast 60% or more) during Meteorological Fall and Winter (Sept. 1 – March 1)
  • One day or night of rain combined with nighttime lows with a 50% or higher probability of 32 degrees or lower.
  • A wind chill factor of 37 degrees or lower for two or more days within a five-day span; or
  • A Wind Advisory announced by the National Weather Service, Sacramento during Meteorological Fall and Winter (Sept.1 – March 1).

Additionally, the City can now open centers when the NWS issuance of an Excessive Heat Watch, Warning or Heat Advisory for hot weather.

Finally, when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is 151 or higher and categorized as “unhealthy,” the City may open respite centers for members of sensitive groups who may experience serious health effects. These broader thresholds allow for the City to notify further in advance of dangerous weather conditions.

The newly adopted criteria reflect many of the thresholds used by the County of Sacramento and are aligned with the partnership agreement between the City of Sacramento and the County of Sacramento.

The City primarily uses its Outreach and Engagement Center (3615 Auburn Blvd.) for its weather-respite operations, as well as various community centers.

The OEC, which began operating full time in September 2022, assists unsheltered residents and helps to connect them with resources that can lead to more stable and sustainable housing.

“The OEC has not only helped save lives but has also helped connect the City’s most vulnerable residents to vital wrap around services,” said Golling. “By expanding the weather respite criteria, the City can save even more lives during extreme weather events.”

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