While counties have traditionally handled local social service programs, Davis in recent years has worked on its own to respond to local concerns about the need for homeless services. Starting in March 2017, the council formally adopted a “Housing First approach” by “committing to a methodology of practices rooted in evidence that everyone needs a permanent home to successfully address mental health conditions, substance use disorders, or other issues that contribute to becoming or remaining unhoused.”
By approving a Scoial Services Strategic Plan, the city developed three overarching goals: maximizing results of DavisPathways; expanding capacity; and reducing panhandling.
DavisPathways consists of the following four components:
- Police Services Specialist Supervisor – Homeless Outreach & Services
- Pathways to Employment
- New Pathways
- Getting to Zero Vouchers and Case Management
The city analyzes each step and determines: How much did we do? How well did we do it? Is anyone better off?
Ryan Collins – Police Services Specialist
In August 2017, the city hired Ryan Collins as a Police Services Specialist Supervisor to help coordinate homeless outreach and services. Since then he has responded to 514 calls for service and helped 203 individuals “in the course of emergency responses and proactive outreach.”
They were able to find 75 of those 125 participants permanent housing.
Staff notes that, to date, Ryan Collins’ services have been funded through police department funding. However, “in December 2018, the City secured a $173,834 California Emergency Solutions and Housing (CESH) grant to establish a flexible fund administered by the Police Department. The fund will offer operational support for emergency housing interventions and housing stabilization services.”
Pathways to Employment
Since April 2017, Pathways to Employment has operated under contract by Davis Community Meals. Staff reports that “the program employs up to five unhoused individuals to work approximately 12 hours per week.”
They have created jobs that include things like landscape maintenance and beautifying downtown.
The participants earn an hourly wage and also receive assistance completing job training programs and finding permanent employment.
The program has an annual operating budget of $64,500 for which the City originally secured a Sutter Health grant.
To date, the program has served 22 individuals who have been homeless and average of 5 years and in Davis for at least 14 years. The average age is 42 years old and 19 of the 22 participants are male.
Nineteen out of 22 remained enrolled or successfully completed the program. They found that 12 of those 19 obtained employment since the program began and all 19 reported increased skill and confidence levels.
Of those who dropped out, most did so for personal reasons unrelated to the program. For example, the staff reports, “one person relocated to the Bay Area and another person stopped due to a scheduling conflict after enrolling in substance use disorder treatment.”
However, staff notes that “some individuals are in such poor health that they are incapable of performing many tasks. To address this, staff is trying to vary the training opportunities to include other experiences that do not rely on physical labor.”
New Pathways is a short-term supportive housing project located at 512 Fifth Street in a city-owned house. Operated under contract by Davis Community Meals since February 2016, “the program offers up to four unhoused individuals short-term housing, supportive services, and housing navigation assistance.”
The current operating budget is $130,401 with the City and Yolo County each contribute $65,200.50.
To date, 26 individuals have been served. Of the 8 who exited to permanent housing, 161 days is the average # of days it took for participants to find permanent housing. 13 of the 26 (50%) remain enrolled or successfully completed the program since the program began.
Eight of the 13 obtained permanent housing since the program began and they remain stably housed.
The biggest obstacles “to moving participants into permanent housing are a lack of subsidized housing as well as an unwillingness of landlords to accept less than market rate.”
Getting to Zero Vouchers and Case Management
Operated by Yolo Housing and funded by Sutter Health since July 2017, the Getting to Zero program provides “grant-funded vouchers to up to 15 unhoused individuals who are seeking permanent housing.”
These vouchers provide an interim housing subsidy to those who qualify for the federal subsidized housing program, Housing Choice Vouchers, but remain on the waitlist.
Staff writes, “Serving as bridge assistance until the recipients can seamlessly transition onto the permanent Housing Choice Vouchers, the temporary Getting to Zero vouchers play a vital role in addressing the backlogged waitlist and housing people more quickly.”
The participants numbers are 15 total – one transitioned directly to housing without a voucher, 4 transitioned to subsidized housing managed by Yolo Housing, 1 received a Project-Based Voucher, 5 received Getting to Zero Vouchers and transitioned to a Housing Choice Voucher and 10 received case management.
Of those in case management: “10 of the 10 (100%) remain actively engaged with a case manager—the one participant who transitioned straight to market rate housing opted not to receive case management.”
Currently: Five of the 15 (33%) available GTZ voucher slots are in use and 11 of 11 remain stably housed.
Staff notes that the case management has achieved a perfect record of success to date, with 21 of the permanently housed individuals remaining stably housed and no incidents of psychiatric hospitalization or involvement in the criminal justice system.
—David M. Greenwald reporting