By Madison Forwood
The Davis Homelessness Alliance (DHA) provided a one-year progress report to the Davis Social Services Commission at their most recent meeting on Oct. 19, 2020. Martha Teeter, advocate and media coordinator for the alliance, presented the data.
The DHA is a public/private collaborative comprised of different Davis community sectors concerned about homelessness. Together the city, Yolo County, UC Davis and Davis Joint Unified School District, businesses, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations and community members are working through the alliance to achieve particular goals. The alliance welcomes participation from the community at large in its sub-committees.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed and impeded progress, the Davis Homelessness Alliance was still able to accomplish a variety of goals this year.
The alliance was able to support Paul’s Place, a facility that will assist in housing some of the most vulnerable members of the Davis community facing homelessness.
Teeter noted, “The accomplishments this past year despite COVID have been support for Paul’s Place which was approved by planning and ultimately City Council in June 2020.”
Likewise the Davis Homelessness Alliance also supported the Respite Center which is open for individuals navigating the many issues relating to homelessness. At this facility individuals are in a temperature controlled facility with showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, food and other living essentials.
She continued, “We supported the Respite Center which was approved in February of 2020, and most recently developed the COVID safe non congregate emergency shelter program which has just begun October 2020.”
Looking forward into the second year of the program, the presenter remained hopeful to continue the current progress and success of the alliance. The alliance has initiated plans to construct a flow chart to track the existing affordable housing left within the city of Davis and low income housing projects in the process of building/permitting.
The Davis Homelessness Alliance also plans to identify potential land for affordable housing which includes expansion options such as zoning.
Teeter described the expansion as,“Develop[ing] affordable options such as ADUs that could add to housing or zoning changes, and creat[ing] a plan for affordable housing on a standard Davis lot.” ADUs are accessory dwelling units that are small affordable housing structures.
In an effort to reach out to the community, the alliance plans to produce the new Davis Health and Social Services Guide as a community resource.
“Specifically, the service providers have asked first to prioritize a wallet card or a foldable card that people can have in the field. So that’s the first priority,” she continued. “The second is to make a help line operational which will have the information of the guide, and then to build a website that’s intuitive and accessible to the guide.”
The alliance members also plan to collect stories of Davis homelessness and data on safety and economic impacts on the homeless. “We are seeking to create materials from collected stories of Davis homelessness, and also get materials that will talk about the data on safety and economic impacts on Davis homelessness,” Teeter stated.
They will use these resources to inform the community about DHA and improve media coordination with both the City of Davis and UC Davis. The alliance will also create social media accounts and a dissemination plan to support the work of the DHA subcommittees.
The largest component to the alliance’s two year plan will be to continue to advocate for the Respite Center, and even add a year round sleeping component to the center. This will involve extending Davis’s Emergency Shelter Program (DESP).
Joy Kohan with the Yolo Food Bank, expressed her appreciation for the alliance, “I just wanted to say thank you Martha, Joanne, and to Rob for their work on this alliance over the past year. I have been a representative from Yolo Food Bank to the alliance. We are very proud of our participation at Yolo Food Bank. As mentioned we’re partners at the apartment project that has just taken shape, and we have provided food to the Respite Center…This is a group that really does something, and I just really wanted to acknowledge that.”
Overall, the Davis Social Services Commission was pleased with the progress the DHA has been able to make especially because of the issues attached with COVID-19. The next update on the DHA will be agendized for this time next year.
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