This is the 10th of the Vanguard’s series of 11 questions. Every Monday until the week before election, we’ll have a new question and answers. Answers are limited to 250 words.
Question 10: What do you see as the most effective way to address the growing homeless problem? Please address in your answer the following: A. Do you support a panhandling ordinance?; B. Would you support a Social Services Parcel Tax?; C. Do you support a Housing First approach?; and D. What other measures would you support as councilmember?
No council candidate can “solve” the homelessness problem given the huge societal forces involved in this human tragedy. But we should work to address the problem because of our compassion as Davis residents and because of the potential harm to our downtown economic hub.
I favor a balanced approach. I supported adding a Police Department social worker to provide outreach to homeless persons and favor providing storage of their personal belongings and creating new public restrooms downtown. I likewise support reasonable measures to control aggressive and obstructive conduct by persons (not necessarily homeless persons) that has damaged private businesses.
Instead of new parcel taxes, I would focus on getting back some of the money we already pay as federal and state taxpayers to help address our local homeless problem through Medi-Cal treatment services and housing assistance.
For many years, I was lead analyst for the California Legislative Analyst’s Office overseeing mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. It’s clear to me that making these services more easily accessible to homeless persons on the streets in Davis will help some move on to permanent housing and stability.
We must also follow through on creating transitional housing to shelter and stabilize homeless persons. Our cadre of local citizen experts can help the city compete successfully for grants for affordable housing projects that I believe will become available due to a $4 billion statewide housing bond on the November 2018 ballot.
Let’s act to make Davis a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
- I support the panhandling ordinance recently passed by the city council because it is focused on behavior and not on a class of people. I believe it is reasonably tailored to address particular behavior such as to still protect an individual’s First Amendment rights.
- I do not support a social services tax at this time because residents are already chafing any new parcel taxes, including the two current tax proposals (parks and infrastructure) on the June ballot. I don’t believe passage of such a tax is possible at this time.
- I support a Housing First approach because it has proven to be a successful approach to addressing homelessness in other communities. There is a community group working now to build Paul’s Place at the site of our current homeless shelter. I look forward to working with this group over the coming months to bring it to fruition.
- Other measures I would support are the following:
– Provide wrap-around services (counseling and medical attention) with County/State assistance
– Continued support of the Pathways to Employment program (public-private partnership)
– Continued support of the Interfaith Winter Rotating Shelter
– Provide rental/utility assistance/security deposit paid for from our development impact fees and/or micro-lending programs; e.g. the Portland, Oregon startup NoAppFee.com.
– Allow tiny curbside food pantries – similar to the “little free libraries” already in our neighborhoods
– Build entry-level affordable housing
The homeless issue is neither simple, nor simply a Davis issue. It is a regional issue and it is complex. There are almost as many reasons for homelessness as there are people who are homeless, ranging from mental health, to substance addiction, to simply not having enough money for rent. And these different causes require different solutions. But we can’t forget that we’re dealing with people.
I believe the most effective way to address the homelessness issue is to give people options. One aspect of the issue can be addressed by adding more housing people can afford. Where municipalities have had the most success dealing with the more complex parts of this problem (e.g. Santa Cruz), they have succeeded with services. Services require funding. While an ordinance and a tax could be looked at, passing an ordinance will not address the problem, only the symptom. And before we add another tax, let’s work to get grant funding and work with our local groups to maximize those resources. Let’s install ‘giving meters’ and do fundraising outreach for our local dot-orgs.
I believe the current City Council is moving in the right direction on this issue, but we lack sufficient shelter options. A 24-hour drop-in shelter would be a good addition, as would a men’s shelter. On a ride-along with the Davis PD, the officer spoke of their frustration that they had no place to take people – other than jail. We can and should do better.
Mary Jo Bryan
I support the city’s action (1) approving the location and funding of two public restrooms and storage containers for homeless persons, and (2) an ordinance restricting certain behaviors associated with panhandling. Although helpful, these actions are just providing a bandage and not addressing the reasons for, and realities of homelessness.
I support a city-wide collaboration to fund the building of the multi-functional, residential homeless service facility on the current Davis Community Meals and Housing site. Called Paul’s Place, it will provide permanent supportive housing with eighteen 300sf furnished micro-dwelling units, ten transitional bedrooms, and four emergency beds.
The Paul’s Place Resource Center (also referred to as DMHRC) will utilize Housing First principles and a low barrier program model that will offer each resident on-site supportive services and intensive case management. Along with the residential component the center will offer showers, restrooms, a large laundry facility, updated kitchen, and community room.
I support a Housing First approach to addressing homelessness in Davis and look forward to participating in a public discussion of how a public/private partnership might partially be funded by a Social Services Parcel Tax. Listening to the thoughts and opinions of our citizens will be crucial to the success of any program we pursue.
Davis Community Meals and Housing, together with other homeless programs in Yolo County is working to develop an employment program, Pathway to Employment, which encourages and supports efforts to provide work and incentives to our homeless populations throughout Yolo County.
The Sacramento Bee article “The Sacramento’s Downtown Streets Team” describes the success of such programs: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/homeless/article204959814.html
Homelessness is a multifaceted issue and needs to be addressed as such. If elected, I will strive to support our community’s efforts.
I think solutions to all problems must be aimed at the root of the problem. Additionally, we have to be honest about what we want for outcomes. Homelessness is a result of a multitude of factors. Those factors must be addressed to move people into situations that are stable and sustainable.
Housing first programs are crucial. We must have a way to deliver mental health and substance abuse programs effectively.
We must also realize that there are degrees of homelessness, many of which are invisible. These types of homelessness often are ignored until they become the types of homeless we step over on our way to our favorite downtown spot. I have been homeless twice in my life; as a child with my mother and sister sleeping on relatives’ floors and with my children escaping an abusive relationship.
Both of those situations could have produced much worse outcomes had there not been safety nets available. Working with our county is important to find the safety nets that fit for Davis. If panhandling is really what our city finds problematic about our homeless situation, we must address both sides of the cause.
This includes the people in our community that contribute to panhandling by giving alms and encourage panhandlers to congregate in our downtown. I support a panhandling ordinance that includes citations of people that give alms as well as solicit them. I would support a parcel tax that is part of a broader delivery of services. Such as services that prevent homelessness.
As a council member I would support the building of Paul’s place, giving meters, and housing first solutions.
- I do not support the panhandling ordinance as it is currently drafted.
- Yes, I support a Social Services Parcel tax with pride.
- Yes, I support a Housing First approach.
- First and foremost, I would treat every person experiencing homelessness with the dignity and respect we all deserve as human beings. I would rapidly expand the homeless outreach efforts by hiring additional social workers, setting up a volunteer program partnership between the university and the city for students who wish to eventually get into social work, and I would reform the activation protocols for police calls in response to homeless individuals. I would also prioritize public locker approval, and would seek to bolster wrap-around services. The truth is that all of this is still less expensive than processing someone through the criminal justice system and criminalizing folks for simply existing in trying times.