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Sacramento city, county announce new plans to combat homeless crisis

Sacramento city and county leaders announced a new partnership to tackle to the homeless crisis.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento County and city officials are upping their response to the homeless crisis in the region, leaders said in a Thursday press conference.

"This agreement is the first of its kind, a voluntary legal agreement, which requires the city and county to work together -- not just one side but both sides to work together. Maybe more importantly, it will guarantee whatever it takes for the people in desperate need of mental health services, substance abuse services, housing services, general assistance -- whatever it takes will be guaranteed to help get people off the streets," said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

It comes as the result of a potential partnership between the city and the county, that if approved on Dec. 6, better coordinates their efforts in responding to the needs of the homeless.

“A new day has come and we’re excited about the cooperation and coordination and what it will bring to those who need us the most, as well as providing services and support for neighborhoods and businesses,” said county supervisor, Patrick Kennedy.

The potential team up translates to 10 county-funded behavioral health workers in the city of Sacramento, funding for homeless engagement workers, a new behavioral center, an expansion of substance abuse residential treatment beds, and hundreds of additional shelter beds.

If the partnership is approved, Kennedy says 200 shelter beds could be on the way within a year and another 200 within three years. Kennedy adds if the city of Sacramento provides a shovel-ready site, another 200 shelter beds could also be added in city jurisdiction.

While Kennedy cautioned this wouldn't be an overnight solution, leaders like Steinberg said the county "is stepping up big time."

"They are taking a step that is bold, far-reaching and provides the best chance we have together to impact this terrible problem that dominates the agendas of every county and city in our state," said Steinberg.

Steinberg says there will also be 10 teams responsible for working 20 separate encampments per month in the city as a result of an additional 50 outreach workers.

"That's not some little pilot," said Steinberg. "That's 20 encampments per month. Each team will have a clinically-trained mental health worker funded by the county with the authority to diagnose people with mental health and substance abuse issues on the spot and in the encampments themselves."

While it could take up to six months to ramp up the 10 teams, It won't be long before some of them start springing into action.

"Next week, we will have two city-county teams including a county behavioral health worker going out to work with people in some of the encampments the city is deemed to pose the greatest and highest risk to health and safety. These include the X Street corridor, and 29th and 30th streets from E to 8th streets in the central city and Hagginwood Park, Traction Avenue and Colfax in North Sacramento," said Steinberg.

According to the agreement, the services offered are first voluntary, but if needed, there are also tools to require people to accept them.

The agreement itself is part of "Measure O: The City of Sacramento Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022" from the November ballot. Generally, the measure bans encampments on public property in the city of Sacramento. It would also require the city manager to authorize hundreds of new shelters within three months of taking effect.

The measure appears likely to pass, and the agreement still needs to be approved by leaders. Nonetheless, both sides already acknowledge the impacts won't be immediate, but over time, they say those changes will come.

"It's a new day. It's a great day. It's a historic day. Let's get started together," said Steinberg.

WATCH ALSO: Sacramento County and city announce partnership to address homelessness

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