Homeless man and shopping cartThe presence of homelessness has rapidly increased in Sacramento County and throughout the United States. Neighborhoods that never used to witness homelessness, now do. Homelessness is a difficult issue because it’s caused and influenced by so many factors. Miami Rehabilitation Center listed here families who fall on hard times and lose their homes, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, etc. Every situation is different, which makes a one–size–fits–all solution impossible.

The City of Sacramento formed a task force, studying best practices in other cities, and is working with the local police department and other groups that are experts in the area. Homelessness is an issue the leadership at the Sacramento Association of REALTORS® is very concerned with and we are engaging in this issue at every available opportunity.

Earlier this year, City Council Members serving on the task force traveled to Seattle to look at their city–sanctioned tent cities. The group toured a tent city that moves every three months. The tent city resides at area churches and other places where advocates can get permission and available land. A second model on the tour is permanently stationed on land owned by the City of Seattle. The third model was a tiny house concept to house residents.

Councilmembers held several public meetings throughout January to April, meeting with homeless advocates, public safety and both public and private organizations to thoroughly vet numerous options. The task force wanted to ensure they could do as much as possible for this group of individuals with the limited resources at their disposal.

Sacramento County, the City of Sacramento, and Sutter Health are combining forces and a combined $2.4 million dollars to expand homeless services, temporary housing, and job training. In part, this will fund roughly 350 "rapid rehousing" units for individuals. This program provides short–term rental assistance, typically for three to nine months, and is geared toward helping homeless individuals whose vulnerability is considered low to medium.

This money will keep two shelters open twenty–four hours a day and another shelter, Harris House, open year round. This results in a total of 232 beds that will be more readily accessible for the population that needs them.

The City of Sacramento is also going to conduct a feasibility study on a "Pay for Success" financing model. This is a new innovative financing model that brings investment in social programs producing effective results. Programs like this are used predicated on the fact that providing shelter reduces costs for local governments in a number of different ways: reduction in mental health services, incarceration rates, and calls to law enforcement. The thought being local private institutions who care about these issues would invest and create a revolving fund to help provide a hand up to the homeless community.

The City of Sacramento is now piloting a portable restroom facility in the River District, championed by Councilman Jeff Harris. The trailer has three air–conditioned stalls, one ADA compliant, each with a sink. The trailer is staffed by two attendants during open hours, seven days a week from 8:00am to 6:00pm. In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Councilman Harris said the project is designed to create cleaner streets and serve as another touch point for homeless people to engage with city service providers. The restroom facility is currently under a six–month pilot project.

These new programs and ideas will not solve homelessness overnight. They do show a substantial commitment to improving living conditions for those individuals who are so unfortunate to become homeless. These programs will help provide a bit of humanity for a population that often feels forgotten and help increase the feeling of safety and security throughout the Sacramento Region.

Caylyn Wright, Government Affairs Director