Council to Consider Davis Community Homelessness Strategic Action Plan

Earlier this year, city and county officials did a count of the homeless.  What they found was that there were 655 homeless individuals counted in Yolo County as of January 22, which marked an increase of 42.7 percent since the last point-in-time count conducted in January 2017.

Of those, 190 were located in Davis.   Of those, according to county data, 114 are unsheltered.  From 2017 to 2019, the homeless population countywide has gone from 21.4 per 10,000 to 29.4 per 10,000.  In Davis, that number has gone from 21.4 to 27.2.

On Tuesday’s agenda is the question of what to do to address the growing problem.

The staff report explains that the city will receive the DOVe (Davis Opportunity Village) Three-Year Davis Community Homelessness Strategic Action Plan.

DOVe invited 136 individuals representing the city, county, UC Davis (UCD), Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD), businesses, nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, and community members to participate in a series of conversations to develop a three-year strategic action plan to reduce the number of persons experiencing homelessness in Davis.

The five goals in the three-year strategic plan spell the acronym “HOME$”

H—Increase permanent housing for vulnerable unhoused persons

O—Increase outreach and connection to housing and services

M—Initiate a public relations/media campaign

E—Develop emergency shelter options

$—Bring in additional private and public funding streams

The first goal “is to Increase Permanent Housing for vulnerable unhoused persons. Targets are 35 new units of housing for the vulnerable per year for each of the three years.”

The key strategies for this goal will:

  • Increase the number of units available to the vulnerable by incentives for apartment owners and developers, as well as improve landlord/tenant relations
  • Reward innovative housing solutions for this population
  • Identify potential land for such housing
  • Change land use and zoning when needed to achieve the goal
  • Support Paul’s Place in completing funding and in entitlements

The second goal is outreach.  The group identified three goals here.

  1. Increase our capacity for outreach and connection of vulnerable individuals to housing and services
  2. Strengthen prevention of new individuals becoming homeless
  3. Collaborate with UC Davis to address student homelessness

The aim in this goal “ is three new City staff persons and 30 trained volunteers or peer support over three years.”

The report explains: “Goal 2’s first strategy targets an increase in staff to address outreach and to use community and peer volunteers effectively in extending the reach of trained professionals. Obtaining outside funding for positions, improving coordination among formal and informal providers, and developing a mentorship program were key to fulfilling this strategy.

“The mentorship program drew particular enthusiasm with participants and many committed to be trained and some to bring training to their organizations.”

The report further explains: “The second strategy was seen as key for decreasing the steady flow of individuals and families into homelessness, and it may involve a parcel tax to create rent supplementation.

“The third strategy offered ways to address student homelessness,” the report continues. “The Summit and Follow-Up meetings presented an excellent opportunity for UC Davis students and administration, both seeking to address student homelessness, to coordinate efforts with each other and the community. Participants felt our inclusion of UC Davis at the meetings was greatly appreciated.”

The third goal, the report explains is “M for Media, (and) will address the education of the community at large regarding facts, best practices and solutions to homelessness.”

Here they suggest, “A strategic array of media options will be created, not only to educate but also to respond quickly for support of measures in the Davis Community Homelessness Strategic Action Plan. As such, it creates a positive environment around homelessness, trains good-will ambassadors, and addresses the value of vouchers specifically to landlords.”

The fourth goal “provides Emergency Shelter for those not yet able to secure permanent housing. Having a year round, permanent emergency shelter was identified as the highest emergency shelter priority by the attendees.

“This is the first strategy under Goal 4,” the report explains. “The target was to shelter 50 and include best practices of pets, partners and possessions. Also possible shelters include a no-barrier safe place to camp and a no-barrier day shelter. All shelters should have access to food, showers, laundry and storage.”

Finally, the fifth goal “targets the financial public and private funding dollars ($) of $1 million per year for the three years of the plan. Strategies include foundation and governmental funding, a local revenue measure, and partnering with local businesses and community members with financial resources and commitment to address homelessness.”

The report notes: “Since these Five Goals are prioritized over three years, there is also a need for Quick Wins, which can be visible signs of the progress toward our community goals. As noted above, at the Follow-Up meeting, participants voted on their three top Quick Wins for Davis. These Quick Wins had been identified at the initial Solutions Summit and those not included already in the plan comprised the set for voting.”

The highest priority Quick Wins were:

  1. Showers – Add restroom and shower options (30 votes)
  2. Lockers – Get storage lockers installed (27 votes)
  3. Transportation –Improve transportation options, possibly a shuttle to services (18 votes)

The group is asking the council to: receive the report, consider the strategic plan as a context for actions that the city takes on homeless issues, and to receive and review a semi-annual report from the steering committee.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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    1. Bill Marshall

      Alan has a point…

      Perhaps, to see what the community is willing to support, and test the viability of the approach, a non-profit (preferably an existing one) could step forward, with a modest contribution from a gov’t entity for advertising, getting the word out, to solicit what amounts to voluntary/charitable contributions to take the first steps/implement phase 1.  They’d need regulatory help, but perhaps not a tax.

      It would be a start… which is sorely needed… then, gov’t help in monitoring results/progress.

      I like what I’ve read of the approach, and that it is proposed to be phased… an “all-or-nothing” approach does not seem feasible, politically, financially, nor practically (not necessarily in that order).  But I believe, strongly, steps should be taken ASAP, no matter how small.

      If such an initial proposal is made, set up, will back up my mouth with an initial $1,000 pledge. For reals…

      If progress can be shown, I can see where a parcel tax could be viable… in the future… not now.

    2. Bill Marshall

      My bad, again… Alan specifically referenced ‘rent supplementation’… I was thinking more the larger effort… but, other than that, my comment stands, but rent supplementation would not be anywhere near Priority #1…

  1. Sharla Cheney

    I’ve pondered what would be considered “affordable” housing for our population of homeless.  Wouldn’t they need nearly free housing?  So, if they are given something for little or no cost, then what do they give in return?  Would good citizenship be too much to ask?  I think essentially that is what is wanted.

    This doesn’t just apply to homeless people who need public resources, BTW.  It applies to public sector employees and politicians.


  2. Tia Will

    “to solicit what amounts to voluntary/charitable “

    This is what our current society is very good at soliciting. We are asked to give voluntarily and many do. One major problem is that since not all contribute, the same folks tend to give again and again. The giving is never enough to meet the need. Never. Thus what we have is a small pool of people basically trying to meet a need that is the responsibility of all. Those who give are essentially attempting to meet not only the needs of the poor but also the perceived preferences of those unwilling to give voluntarily. Thus those who volunteer their resources support not only the needy but the uncaring noncontributing wealthy as well. In a society as rich as ours, surely the society as a whole should be willing to help those in need.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Please note, Tia, that many of us volunteer time and effort, not just $$$… both… you’re very welcome to join us…

      But, I do have serious concerns about using gov’t to compel others to act/contribute as we do… philosophically, and pragmatically… on the latter tends to go ‘all or nothing’…

      Probably a “agree to disagree thing”…

      But I agree with your main thrust.

      Have a great weekend and month…

      1. Craig Ross

        Bill something to consider – we have seen the impact of attempting to help the homeless without government intervention – it doesn‘t work well.  You need funding for treatment.  You need programs.  You need the ability to go beneath the surface. JMO.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Believe me, I have considered, and I do understand quite well… and have pointed this out on multiple occasions… engaging the folk, supporting them is one piece… and often is needed to get to the second piece which indeed needs public funding:  professional counselling and treatment for MH and substance issues… if I implied there wasn’t , I worded wrong… I was talking in the context of new initiatives, not yet available/implemented.

          Good clarification, though.  I appreciate that.

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