'A hundred beds times eight.' Triage Shelter to stay open as Mayor Steinberg, council members pursue citywide strategy
Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced today that he and City leaders have negotiated a lease extension for the City’s Triage Shelter on Railroad Drive in north Sacramento for another six months, until mid-July, with the possibility of a further extension to a full year.
Mayor Steinberg also announced that he has asked his eight colleagues on the City Council to each find a site or sites in their district that could be used to shelter 100 homeless people, also using the low-barrier approach employed by the Triage Shelter. The Mayor said this 8 x 100 approach would be the fastest and fairest way to scale up the City’s shelter capacity to meet the needs of the unsheltered population, which nearly doubled in the two years before he took office in 2017.
“Now is not the time to retreat and tell ourselves that modest success is enough; it’s time to scale up so we can get thousands of people off the street,” the Mayor added. “The Triage Shelter and others like it will serve as a bridge leading from the streets or the riverbank to permanent housing.”
Mayor Steinberg said his goal is to have three new shelters up and running by the end of 2019. He stressed, however, that the approach to meeting the goal of at least 100 beds per district could be tailored for different areas of the City, with a mix of large shelters like Railroad Drive and small, scattered site shelters such as single family homes.
“My colleagues are the experts,” Mayor Steinberg said at an afternoon press conference outside City Hall on Monday. “They all represent their districts so they know what works best.”
Other members of the City Council have expressed support for the idea of spreading shelter capacity throughout the City rather than concentrating it near downtown and North Sacramento.
“I’m very happy that Mayor Steinberg has accepted the responsibility of putting forth a comprehensive, results-oriented strategy for our homeless crisis, and I’m committed to doing my part,” said Councilmember Allen Warren, whose District 2 includes North Sacramento and Del Paso Heights.
Councilmember Steve Hansen, whose District 4 includes downtown, said, “This is a major step forward for each Council district to do its fair share to help our homeless citizens move off the streets. Our district and neighborhoods have led the way in services to the homeless and have experience doing it well. We appreciate that these new resources will help us house even more of our unsheltered neighbors.”
Both Hansen and Councilmember Jay Schenirer said they intend to involve residents of their districts in helping review and suggest sites.
Homelessness has reached crisis proportions throughout the state of California as affordable housing becomes increasingly scarce. Mayor Steinberg and mayors of other large California cities have been leading aggressive efforts to build shelters that take people with their pets, partners and possessions and surround them in services and support so they can be stabilized and placed in permanent housing.
Since it opened in December 2017, the Triage Shelter has housed 619 people, 156 of whom are currently living there. Of those who have left the Triage Shelter, 168 are no longer homeless but have permanent housing. About two-thirds of those currently served by the shelter have been homeless for more than a year, some far longer. Most are older than 45.
“The Triage Shelter’s low-barrier approach has allowed people who have been homeless for years to come in off the streets and get connected with case management, medical services and housing opportunities” said Emily Halcon, the City’s Homeless Services Coordinator. “It’s an innovative approach and it’s working.”
Mayor Steinberg praised the partners of the firm that controls the Railroad Drive building, City of Trees Ventures, for continuing to work with the City to keep the shelter open. The latest extension is the third that the partners have negotiated with the City.
“City of Trees Ventures is committed to being a partner with the City in its work to get thousands of people off the streets,” said CEO Michael Wachtel. “This is an issue that affects everyone in our community, and we’re excited that our successful partnership will continue helping hundreds of people regain their lives.”