What is included in the new Sacramento County Homeless Services Plan?


Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg speaks during a press conference with Sacramento County leaders on a city-county agreement to work on homelessness issues on Thursday, December 1, 2022. Flanking him is Supervisor County Councilman Rich Desmond, left, City Councilman Jeff Harris, right. , and Sacramento County Executive Director Ann Edwards, right.


The City of Sacramento and Sacramento County announced a groundbreaking compact earlier this month that commits both agencies to providing services to the homeless, but don’t expect to see much change regarding winter temperatures.

The plan’s new shelter beds and outreach kits won’t be online for at least a few months. They could start making a difference next year.

The two agencies approved the pact on December 6. In addition to detailing a baseline of the services they will provide, the agreement allows city officials to enforce Measure O, the voter-approved ballot measure that could empower officials to clear homeless encampments. of public places. .

Today, the city and county have a combined 2,400 shelter beds. That’s a fraction of the need with more than 9,200 homeless in Sacramento County on any given night.

The agreement also aims to reduce barriers to services needed by many homeless people, including behavioral and mental health services. The agreement says that the city and county collectively must employ a team of 50 workers, comprised of 25 camp workers, 10 mental health workers, and 15 homeless outreach workers.

Here’s what’s in the plan:

More shelter Sacramento

In the next 12 months, Sacramento County will add 200 shelter beds, and in the next 36 months, it will add an additional 200 beds, according to officials.

The first beds will be placed in tiny houses at two South Sacramento locations near Florin Road. Officials hope to have them up and running by spring 2023.

The next 200 beds will be on Watt Avenue. Officials do not have an exact timeline for opening the shelter as they are in the early stages of designing the property, according to Sacramento County spokeswoman Janna Haynes.

behavioral health teams

While the agreement calls for new teams of 10 behavioral health workers to visit 20 camps per month, two of those groups have already begun groundwork at two camps, serving people in need.

Those workers, who began their assignments in October, are in the field four hours each day, screening people, monitoring their mental health and conducting substance use assessments.

The kits will be able to diagnose people “on the spot,” according to Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg.

The Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) includes a Mental Health Counselor and a Peer Behavioral Health Specialist, both associated with the City of Sacramento Community Response Department.

“Once we know what level of care they need, we take them to their first appointment,” said Caitlyn Fournier, county program coordinator for behavioral services.

Workers have been taking some people to see psychiatrists who can prescribe same-day medication.

“When it comes to talking about mental health, people aren’t quick to say, ‘Sign me up,’ because it’s a sensitive topic,” the county said. health program manager monica Rocha-Wyatt. “It takes three or more tries to get that person involved. That’s why peers are essential to be able to have that conversation to feel safe and close to get the best assessment of what their needs are.”

The teams also follow up on past clients who have existing services and track data to determine how many people they serve each year.

“Treatment in the field is challenging,” Fournier said. “Experiences in homelessness are traumatic.”

The teams do not provide treatment, but link people to one of the many treatment providers that are associated with the county.

Health Care Connection

An additional team from the city’s Community Response Department will provide trained workers to connect people with Medi-Cal, the state-funded health care plan.

“It’s an additional door in our system,” said Samantha Mott, county spokeswoman for the Department of Health Services. “There are several other doors through which they can pass. One of the things about behavioral health is that there is no wrong door to enter. This is an additional tool for how we get people connected to services.”

Theresa Clift of The Bee contributed to this story.

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Sawsan Morrar covers responsibility and school culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumnus of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications, including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED, and Capital Public Radio.

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