Expanded Homeless Facility, Paul’s Place, Goes before Planning Commission Next Week

A proposed redevelopment of an existing facility that would offer supportive services and other opportunities for people suffering from homelessness is headed to the Planning Commission next week, which will be asked to recommend the council adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration and approve planning applications.

The applicant is seeking to demolish the existing 2800-square-foot, single-story structure that also currently serves as transitional housing and a homeless services facility.  The site is owned and operated by Davis Community Meals and Housing.  It would then be replaced by a 16,928-square-foot, four-story facility that would serve the homeless and be multifunctional.

As redeveloped, the facility would provide additional housing and allow for expanded services for institutional non-profit and residential uses.

The single-story existing facility has a resource center, and one bathroom and shower for day use, along with limited community and kitchen facilities.  There is one bedroom with four beds and a bathroom to house four women, and three bedrooms with a bathroom to house eight men.  There is also a staff bedroom with a bathroom.

They are, as indicated, promising to turn it into a four-story house.  The first floor would have an expanded resource center and two emergency shelters with double-occupancy bedrooms and 1 ¾ bathroom.

The second floor will have 10 transitional housing units—each a single occupancy bedroom, a shared kitchen, living and laundry room, three bathrooms and two half-baths, with two staff offices and a staff bedroom.

The third floor would have nine single permanent supportive housing, single -occupant fully equipped micro-dwellings. The fourth floor would have the same.  All four floors would be served by an elevator.  Two of the 18 units would be ADA accessible.

The proposed project would include four vehicle parking spaces, 28 bicycle parking spaces, storage, outdoor activity areas, and related site improvements.

In an interview last year with Bill Pride, the executive director of Davis Community Meals and Housing, he explained, “We’re going to be knocking down the existing facility that we’ve had for 25 years and rebuilding it so that we have an expanded resource center, a new and improved transitional housing program and two floors of permanent housing for folks.”

He said, “(Paul’s Place) is going to expand our ability to serve people better.”

As he described, the current building has between 35 and 70 folks a day going to the resource center.  These are folks who need to do things like wash their clothes, take showers, use the bathroom.  In the current facility “we have one bathroom and one shower and they’re both located in the same room.

“We have 20 people signing up for showers every morning,” he said.  “They have to wait an hour, sometimes two, to take a shower before it’s their turn.”

He added that “we have two washers and two dryers for all the people that want to wash clothing and that type of thing.”

The first floor of the new building will be the resource center, Bill Pride explained.  “That is going to have more showers, more bathrooms.  More laundry facilities—more washers, more dryers,” he said.  “People are going get their needs met in a much faster way.”

In the city’s Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration which was reviewed and circulated for public review, staff writes, “Appropriate mitigation measures were identified and incorporated and reduced all potential impacts to a less than significant level.”

However, the study determined “that the potential impacts would be less than significant or less than significant with mitigation and that no further environmental review was required.”

The General Plan designation of the project site is Residential Medium High Density.  The existing facility is consistent with the existing land use designation which allows for residential and institutional uses. “The proposed project would continue the existing use, but in a larger facility with additional housing and beds and improved homeless services.”

The Residential Medium High category allows a density range of 13.45-23.99 du/net acre without density bonus and 16.80-29.99 du/net acre with density bonus.  However, “Staff finds that the proposed multifunctional homeless facility with its combination of transitional housing and supportive services is an institutional use akin to a residential care facility not subject to the density limitations and that it would consistent with its General Plan designation.”

The project’s size and location has drawn some pushback in the community.

There is a comment attached in the staff report, “The proposed enlargement of the homeless shelter at 111 H St., (Paul’s Place) would not serve their clients well. A very large HUD study in 2015 concluded that 45% of the homeless population suffers from mental illness.

“The expansion of Paul’s Place from 4 to 32 beds means that statistically there will be 14 clients with mental illness in one setting. Several multi-state studies showed that mentally ill populations are best served in settings of 6 or less, such as at Pine Tree Gardens on 11th St.”

But former Mayor Robb Davis who helped design this concept pointed out in an op-ed last year, “The number of people at significant risk for long-term homelessness continues to grow in our community. In January 2019, the most recent Yolo County Point-in-Time Count reported more than a 20% increase in Davis’ homeless population since 2017.”

He argued, “Paul’s Place will replace the current outmoded building with a modern, attractive and more efficient facility to provide critical day services, health and human resources, emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing to people living homeless in Davis. Featuring an innovative, vertical micro-housing approach, Paul’s Place will move more people from homelessness to housing.”

—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. Alan Miller

    Two things:

    1) I oppose ‘Housing First’ – which is “Drugs First”.  This super-, maybe too-super- nice facility should house those who are willing to go by the simple rule of abstinence.   Those people should be more than enough to fill the spaces, and are the most likely to stay clean and benefit from programs.  Housing the actively addicted is enabling.

    As long as Paul’s Place is Drugs First, I violently oppose this plan.

    2) I question the strategy of spending the money to build a super-too-super-nice facility for a small number of people vs. building lots of roofs over peoples heads that are simple and clean and little else.  Sounds like the “Homeless Industrial Complex” method, and I oppose it.

    BTW, in SF in the hotels housing the so-called homeless, they are supplying them with alcohol, marijuana, methadone and “other substances”.  This is to encourage the residents to not wander outside looking for drugs.

    1. Richard McCann

      Demanding that we only help people who take full personal responsibility ignores what their primary problem is–an inability to take personal responsibility. The assertion that only those abstaining be given support is the equivalent of the ineffective sloganeering behind “Say No to Drugs.” We know how that played out.

      The real answer is to provide wrap around services with housing that has reasonable restrictions on personal behavior, e.g., no using while in the facility, requiring participation in counseling. We have to get people to a point where they can recognize and consider personal responsibility first. Living on the street won’t get them there.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Fort the record, Alan, #1 “drug” or ‘other substance’ is nicotine, mainly cheap cigarettes… alcohol is a very close second… for many, the drugs of nicotine and alcohol are intertwined… almost ‘Siamese twins’…

      That said, I align more with Richard McC… when a person is drowning, the first priority is not telling them they have to swim… rescue first… teaching them, convincing them of the need, to swim, is crucial to avoid another drowning… the follow-up/support is crucial… it is not simple.

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