Breaking News
More () »

City-County homeless agreement status check | Did they meet their 60-day goals?

The City and County of Sacramento entered into an agreement in early December, to coordinate their approaches to homeless solutions.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento County and the City of Sacramento entered into a formal agreement back in December to coordinate their efforts in solving the homeless crisis.

Both local governing bodies voted to approve the agreement on Dec. 6. In addition to long-term goals, the agreement included several 60-day goals – and that deadline came over the weekend.

So how did the city and county do?

They met some of those 60-day goals and are close on a couple of others.

They successfully expanded 24/7 the Sacramento Mental Health Urgent Care Center on Stockton Boulevard.

They are soft-launching this month the new Wellness Crisis Call Center and Response Team, formerly called Alternatives to 911 for Mental Health. That's a hotline that can be called instead of 911 when someone is having a mental health crisis.

Where the county and city are close but did not quite hit the 60-day goal are in the following two areas.

They were supposed to have created something called a Coordinated Access System (CAS). That's basically a living, breathing, electronic database of all the shelter beds in the county, city, and through non-profits. Leaders say—that database is almost done. CAS already includes the county’s beds and is administered by Sacramento Steps Forward, but the agreement includes expanding it to show all available beds throughout the county and city.

“The success depends on having beds, and certainly the city and county combining their bed capacity so that there are no boundaries really, between city and county is crucial,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg told ABC10.

The other 60-day goal that's almost done is the city and county adopting a collaboration protocol. That’s essentially a specific roadmap for how the city and county plan on achieving all the longer-term goals they've set out for themselves.

One such longer-term goal is creating outreach teams. Within six months of the agreement – so by early June - the city and county have a goal of creating 10 outreach teams, comprised of a total of 50 people. These teams will go to large encampments and connect people there with services. Members will include a behavioral health worker, who will be able to diagnose mental health issues. The agreement calls for these teams to serve 20 encampments per month, collectively.

“Just like my colleagues in the City Council and my other colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, you know, we are all under a tremendous amount of pressure - rightfully so - to not only get the supports in place to help those who are unsheltered, help them get into housing, help them with the behavioral health supports they need for untreated mental illness and addiction, but also to make sure we clean up our neighborhoods. Make sure we remove encampments that are causing problems in communities,” Sacramento County Supervisor and Board Chair Rich Desmond said. “Those are equally important things. You know, we have to be cognizant of the quality of life in the communities, while still working hard to help people who are unsheltered.”

Leaders say it will still take a while before the public starts seeing any change. Right now, working in line with the agreement involves a lot of planning and organizing. Mayor Steinberg said he's hopeful but he won't start feeling really good until the community can start seeing real change at large encampments, where people are moved to shelters and given resources and those areas can be cleaned up. Steinberg said he’ll soon announce where the city will begin focusing its efforts, but high-priority corridors include the X Street corridor; 29th and 30th streets from E to 8th streets in the central city; Hagginwood Park; Traction Avenue; and Colfax in North Sacramento.

“To start, I want to make sure that we choose a visible, discrete part of the city and that we spend a month, two months, three months to do a person-centered approach,” Steinberg said. “Remember, the teams include mental health navigators, peer support specialists, housing specialists, to actually help get people off the streets. The county is obligated under the agreement to do whatever it takes. And we're working in complete partnership with them on that.”

Leaders also agree that more beds are needed.

As part of the agreement, the county is tasked with adding at least 200 new shelter beds by December, at least 200 more shelter beds by late 2025, and another 200 if the city can provide a shovel-ready site for shelter the county can build and operate within city limits.

The agreement will also add a behavioral health center in downtown Sacramento, to better serve people who live in the core of the capital city.

“I think it's going really well. I think this partnership agreement the only one of its kind in the state of California,” Desmond said. “I think it is a very good thing. And I'm very optimistic that it's really going to make a difference.”

Keep in mind that at last count, Sacramento County has an estimated unhoused population of about 9,300. Between the city and county, there are about 2,400 shelter beds (1,100 city + 1,300 county) – not including emergency weather respite beds. So that means there’s a shelter bed for only about a quarter of Sacramento County’s unhoused community.

Critics say the agreement doesn’t do a lot more to help the unhoused community than what the city and county were already doing. What it does do, however, is trigger the implementation of Measure O. Sacramento voters approved that back in November—and it, among other things, allows the city to crack down on camping on public property, though the city has to meet certain criteria before they can do that—including creating more emergency shelter spaces.

"As affordable housing advocates and experts, we know that this measure will divert needed funding resources that could- and should, be going to build permanent, appropriate, affordable accessible housing," a spokesperson for the Neighbors Against Measure O Coalition - Tamie Dramer - wrote in opposition to the agreement. "Instead, those much-needed resources will be spent on policing, incarceration, and pushing homeless people around without providing the necessary resources to get homeless people housed."

The length of the agreement is five years, with an option to extend. A progress report must be prepared and presented to both the City Council and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors every six months.

Watch: Downtown Stockton businesses now eligible for broken window reimbursement | To The Point

Before You Leave, Check This Out