City Council votes to move ahead with building a shelter on Ethan Way
The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize the city manager to build a homeless shelter planned for a parking lot near the intersection of Ethan and Hurley ways.
Councilmember Jeff Harris, Mayor Darrell Steinberg and city staff have been negotiating for months with Cal Expo over use of the property. The goal is to build a Sprung structure type of building that would provide shelter and services for 100 adults at a time.
The estimated cost for design and construction of Lot P is $3.8 million. It would cost an estimated $5.2 million to operate the shelter for two years.
.This new low-barrier shelter would be modeled on the city’s existing Triage Shelter on Railroad Drive, which accepts people with their pets, partners and possessions.
“When you lower barriers, you can serve people who have not historically been served,” said City Homeless Services Coordinator Emily Halcon. “Our population is older, sicker, and has more behavioral health issues. These are the people who have been outside the longest and are the most disconnected.”
About 34 percent of those who have entered the Triage Shelter have since exited to some form of more permanent housing, including many people who had been on the streets for years. Halcon said the results are similar or better to those from shelters that serve a less troubled population.
Mayor Steinberg said he expects three more low-barrier shelter sites to come to City Council on April 23, including two shelters proposed by Councilmember Jay Schenirer for sites in his district, one on Florin Road and one near Broadway and the W/X freeway next to Curtis Park, Oak Park and midtown.
Once the city reaches a final agreement with Cal Expo, Steinberg said, city staff has said it will take six months to erect a shelter. “I wish it could be tomorrow,” he said.
Mayor Steinberg has called on each of his council colleagues to locate 100 shelter beds in their districts, for a total of 800 beds citywide. The majority of the Council members have said they endorse this approach. So far, Harris and Schenirer are the only ones who have publicly announced sites.
Councilmember Steve Hansen said Tuesday he expects to announce a shelter site in his District 4, which includes midtown and downtown, within the next week or so.
“I hope the rest of my colleagues will do the same,” he said. “The only way we’re going to solve this condition is by building shelters.
“These shelters are essential to resolving the community’s concerns.,” Hansen added. “Every day I get 100 complaints about homelessness. This is the thing on the community’s mind. Unless we build shelters, the half million people we represent aren’t going to be happy. “
Shelter proposals have been greeted with public controversy, but council members Tuesday stressed that the shelters are intended to serve people who are already homeless in a given neighborhood. They will include on-site services, security and cleanup crews to mitigate any impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
“People have asked me why I support homeless shelters,” said Councilmember Jeff Harris. “If we do nothing, we know where we’re headed: More homelessness, more poverty on the streets…..more people falling through the cracks and into despair.”
The Council vote Tuesday also authorized the use of $300,000 in Measure U funds to add four more employees to the city’s Homeless Services Division, headed by Halcon.
Mayor Steinberg has proposed a $40 million plan to address homelessness over the next two years that would be paid for with a combination of state, city and private funds, including $16 million in one-time Measure U funds.