Council Asked to Extend Respite Center for Another Year

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Council in November 2019 discussing the Respite Center

By David M. Greenwald

With homelessness soaring in Davis and more people living on the streets in unsheltered situations as of early 2019, the Davis City Council looked to create temporary shelter for daytime uses to provide basic services and enable those who wanted not to have to hang out on the streets all day.

The Respite Center, approved in late 2019 as a pilot project, “aims to improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing homelessness in Davis, through provision of services to meet basic needs and connection to services to assist with housing, counseling, medical care and other needs.”

With the evaluation period ending, the council is reviewing the experience so far and being asked to extend the program for another 12 months.

This represents a relatively cheap program.  To date, the staff report cites a $382,500 cost, which includes a $60,000 one-time amount for site improvements.  Costs vary, but the average cost is about $33,900 per month.

Council began acting in early 2019 after Yolo County completed its biennial point-in-time count, which found that there were 190 persons experiencing homelessness in Davis on any given night.  One hundred fourteen of those people experienced unsheltered homelessness, reflecting a 30 percent increase in overall homelessness and a larger increase in the unsheltered population—which nearly doubled from about 58 unsheltered in 2017 to the 114 in 2019.

In February 2019, the council asked staff to research options for establishing a pilot daytime and nighttime respite center to serve persons experiencing homelessness in Davis.  After an early recommendation of a location on Second Street drew community and neighborhood pushback, council shifted to the Public Works Corp Yard on Fifth Street.

Council cited among other things its more central location, relatively near other services located near City Hall, with a large enough footprint to accommodate the proposed amenities and the infrastructure that did not exist on other city-owned parcels.

In late December 2019, the council approved the one-year pilot that included things like food, laundry facilities, resting areas, showers and storage.

The Respite Center finally opened on February 24—just three weeks before a state of emergency was declared due to COVID.

Staff notes, “This emergency, which remains in place today, has significantly influenced the operations of the Center. It quickly became and continues to serve as a vital piece of the complex public health puzzle, with a goal to limit the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population and the broader community.”

According to the staff report, the city contracts with CommuniCare to operate the center and provide medical services to guests.  Right now the center is open six days a week and averages 111 guests per week, with six or seven new intakes.

Among the services are the Hub which “includes restrooms; the administrative office; a computer hub where guests can access email, complete applications, or be online; a clothes closet with donations from the community; simple food and drinks from the Yolo Food Bank; and an area to sit and relax.”

There are bathrooms and showers, laundry facilities, storage, outdoor seating, covered resting spaces, service connections, and mail.

COVID, staff says, has “posed challenges.”

It has also “provided opportunities” and “caused the Center to pivot to a COVID-focused operation within weeks of opening. It quickly became a critical part of the City’s COVID-response infrastructure, with a goal of preventing the spread of the disease among the city unsheltered individuals.”

Immediately, the Center implemented procedures “to limit occupancy so that social distancing could be enforced, implemented new sanitization procedures, increased visitations by CommuniCare medical staff to meet with guests, and coordinated with Yolo County to identify the most vulnerable individuals to participate in Project RoomKey.”

Project RoomKey has become a critical program for the homeless community, enabling the county to house unsheltered individuals in hotel rooms throughout the County.

Davis has had 39 hotel rooms as part of the program for people who are medically vulnerable to COVID-19 and 12 rooms for people who need to isolate or quarantine due to positive COVID-19 test results—many of the participants were identified through the Respite Center.

Staff notes that people accepted into the Project RoomKey program “are not permitted to access the services at the Center while they are housed in a hotel room, as they have access to the same services via Project RoomKey.”

Staff notes that while the center has referred roughly 100 of the more vulnerable people to Project RoomKey, “the intake numbers and the participation at the Center have not declined.”

The staff report notes that initially there was a lot of pushback from the community on the Respite Center: “Many near neighbors were concerned about the potential effects of the Center on their neighborhood. Concerns included whether there would be an increase in homeless individuals in the neighborhood, particularly when the Center was closed; increased levels of crime once the Center was operational; and decreased safety in the area.”

There was a follow up meeting held virtually on December 2, 2020, where a survey received 130 responses out of 1100 postcards mailed to the Davis Manor and Old East Davis Neighborhoods.  Around 40 people participated at the meeting.

Survey responses show people evenly split, with 51 percent saying the Center “has negatively impacted their neighborhood” but 49 percent said it has not impacted their neighborhood negatively.

Staff writes, “The biggest impacts noted in the survey included an increase in general safety concerns, trash/littering, and an increase of unhoused individuals in the area. Most survey participants stated there were minimal impacts to crime, traffic, noise, and property values.”

—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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32 thoughts on “Council Asked to Extend Respite Center for Another Year”

  1. Alan Miller

    Right now the center is open six days a week and averages 111 guests per week, with six or seven new intakes.

    Is that 111 check-ins per week, or 111 individuals?  In other words, is one person who checks-in six times counted as a “1” or “6” in reaching “111” ?  This number, once rationalized, should be weighted against the $33,900/month so we have an idea of cost/person and cost/daily-check-in.  Also, are there costs that are not included?  Such as, are their paid personnel paid through other budgets outside the $33,900 that actually staff the facility?

    Survey responses show people evenly split, with 51 percent saying the Center “has negatively impacted their neighborhood” but 49 percent said it has not impacted their neighborhood negatively.

    Would one-say half of people saying the Respite Center negatively impacts the neighborhood be ‘minimal’?  Or ‘collateral damage’?

    Anyone want to bet this gets extended another 12 months, in perpetuity?

      1. Bill Marshall

        1100 ‘survey contacts’… 130 responses… no ‘statistics’ are valid as to making decisions… except perhaps the # of folk who felt no need to respond, when queried…

        1. Mark West

          “folk who felt no need to respond”

          I live 650 feet, assuming I could levitate 750 feet if required to walk, door to door from the respite center. I walk by the site nearly every day. In my opinion, it has had no negative material impact on the neighborhood, but it has clearly had a positive impact on the lives of those who are using it. I will let someone else decide if it is cost effective.

          I have found that most City surveys appear to be designed with a predetermined outcome, so I don’t bother responding, including to this one.

           

  2. Alan Miller

    it has had no negative material impact on the neighborhood,

    • The garbage collecting along the east side of Korean church that isn’t cleaned up by either the church or the so-called homeless people who gather there across from the respite center is a negative impact.

    • The recent incidents of two different so-called homeless women taking an unwelcome “#2” on a friend’s sidewalk who lives three blocks from the respite center is a negative impact.

    Making the point there are negative impacts and citing two examples.  It is arguable whether the respite center was a causative factor in the above two bullet items, or if they would occur anyway, but certainly these are the result of the so-called homeless.

    1. John Hobbs

      ” so-called homeless people”

      but let’s not dehumanize anyone, right Alan?

      ” The recent incidents of two different so-called homeless women taking an unwelcome “#2” on a friend’s sidewalk who lives three blocks from the respite center is a negative impact… It is arguable whether the respite center was a causative factor in the above two bullet items, or if they would occur anyway, but certainly these are the result of the so-called homeless.”

      They walked 3 blocks to take a dump on your friend’s driveway? You tracked them somehow?

      Seems unlikely that there is any relation between the double deuce on the driveway and the respite center.

      As far as the garbage goes, call your council person and nag them, they hate that and that’s what they’re there for. I have even been known to help clean up such piles myself.

      What I don’t do is begrudge the less fortunate every tiny bit of comfort or safety they are given.

      1. Alan Miller

        but let’s not dehumanize anyone, right Alan?

        Not my point in using this term.  My point is that the term ‘homeless’ is used for many populations, and therefore misused, including in several Motte-Bailey fallacies.  In using this term, I am disparaging people who misuse the word ‘homeless’, not disparaging so-called homeless persons.

        They walked 3 blocks to take a dump on your friend’s driveway? You tracked them somehow?  Seems unlikely that there is any relation between the double deuce on the driveway and the respite center.

        As I said, that is arguable.  My friend lives in a corridor to/from a common destination and has seen an increase in so-called homeless who travel along this corridor.  This has led to an increase in incidents, including the deuces, as the friend has related to me.

        As far as the garbage goes, call your council person and nag them, they hate that and that’s what they’re there for.

        I do nag the council when such incidents occur, and you can confirm by inquiring of my council-person (who is probably reading this and going, ‘yup’).  I have related these incidents many times in this ‘space’.

        I have even been known to help clean up such piles myself.

        As have I when they were smaller and managable, before the ‘new wave’ of so-called homeless struck 10-15 years ago who seemed to also bring a bold new attitude towards littering (as a whole).  Now, with the threat of needles, I leave the cleanup to the experts.

        What I don’t do is begrudge the less fortunate every tiny bit of comfort or safety they are given.

        I’ll be sure to suggest a statue of you to replace Ghandi when they remove his likeness from Central Park.

        I begrudge anyone who litters en masse, does hard drugs openly, sells drugs openly, defecates in public (pass for the mentally ill – no pass for our government for not serving anyone that mentally ill), steals bicycles, has dogs running loose — I don’t care if you are more less fortunate than I, I begrudge you.  Simply for being less fortunate but still being a civil and decent human being who doesn’t have a home?  No begrudgement at all.

        The impact comes from those who are both so-called homeless and are either arseholes or mentally ill, within the group of persons, many of whom cause no trouble, who are all labeled as the so-called ‘homeless’.

        1. John Hobbs

          “The impact comes from those who are both so-called homeless and are either arseholes or mentally ill, within the group of persons, many of whom cause no trouble, who are all labeled as the so-called ‘homeless’.”

          I’m sure there are arseholes on both sides.

    2. Mark West

      Alan M:

      The examples you describe are similar to what was occurring before the center opened and in my view, the garbage issue was far worse before. As to your second complaint, it is a bit of a stretch to blame the center for incidents three blocks away, especially when you consider it offers toilet and shower facilities.

      It is my considered opinion that the center has not made conditions in the neighborhood worse, and in fact, some things have improved – so no negative material impact as I said.

      You have previously made clear your dislike of the homeless. It is nice to have access to appropriate housing, especially in the wintertime. I believe there is value in the community having empathy and compassion for those who do not have that benefit.

      1. Ron Oertel

        You have previously made clear your dislike of the homeless.

        Not how I interpreted previous comments.

        I interpreted it as not liking the way that authorities handle the situation, in general. And the resulting impact on others.

      2. Alan Miller

        The examples you describe are similar to what was occurring before the center opened and in my view, the garbage issue was far worse before.

        You may be correct.

        As to your second complaint, it is a bit of a stretch to blame the center for incidents three blocks away, especially when you consider it offers toilet and shower facilities.

        As I said, that is arguable.  This is what my friend has observed, so I offer this second hand.  The city did nothing to clean up the dueces off his sidewalk either time and he had to do it himself, and is none-too-happy about that.  Possibly blame could be directed at the state’s lack of dealing with those with severe mental health issues.  As I said, arguable — there is never any way to make a direct cause-effect so one can argue either way based on their political beliefs on these matters and their observations and how their brain processes these observations.

        It is my considered opinion that the center has not made conditions in the neighborhood worse, and in fact, some things have improved – so no negative material impact as I said.

        Arguable, see above.

        You have previously made clear your dislike of the homeless.

        Out of line.  You either don’t understand what I have stated on this subject over many years, or you are purposefully being an arse because you disagree with me on the politics of dealing with the persons and issues involved.

        1. Dave Hart

          I don’t know you personally, but your writing here does sound as if you dislike people who find themselves in a situation that corresponds to being homeless by referring to them as ‘so-called homeless’.  I appears that you believe these people have homes, but choose to take a dump in someone’s yard, or choose to leave a lot of trash around someone else’s property but not at their own home.  That’s just the way your comments read.

        2. Alan Miller

          That’s just the way your comments read..

          Or the way you are reading my comments.

          I dislike people who litter en masse, does hard drugs openly, sells drugs openly, defecates in public (pass for the mentally ill – no pass for our government for not serving anyone that mentally ill), steals bicycles, has dogs running loose, etc.  If they are homeless, that’s no pass to do these things (mental illness may be a pass – but then shows a lack of government success in intervention).

          If they are homeless and they don’t do these things, I have as much compassion for them as any homed person, and they deserve our compassion and the handout of well-run programs to help.

          I appears that you believe these people have homes, but choose to take a dump in someone’s yard, or choose to leave a lot of trash around someone else’s property but not at their own home.

          I’m not sure what this means.  I don’t know if someone has a home or not – be they a deucer, a litter-bug, begging downtown — I have no idea.  I dislike people who dump on the sidewalk or leave piles of trash – be they homed or not.  And if this is caused by mental illness, this is an area where government should step in — as this shows government is failing, at whatever level this should be addressed (I believe in this case that level is State).

        3. Dave Hart

          You used the term “so-called homeless” three times as if that meant something significant.  I assume nobody disagrees that the behaviors you cited are objectionable, but I was confused as to the relevance of the term “so-called homeless”.   Seems people are either homeless or not homeless.  Maybe you’re just not that good at expressing yourself in writing.  My apologies if I made you feel uncomfortable.

        4. Mark West

          Alan M:

          I certainly could have been more accurate and artful, by stating that your dislike of the ‘actions of some of the homeless’ has been made clear, but in truth my comment came directly from your use of the term ‘so-called homeless’ which I find particularly offensive. I am sorry for my poor use of language.

           

        5. Alan Miller

          You used the term “so-called homeless” three times as if that meant something significant.

          I’ve actually used it hundreds of times.  Significant is in the eye of the beholder.

          I assume nobody disagrees that the behaviors you cited are objectionable,

          Probably, except maybe those doing it.

          but I was confused as to the relevance of the term “so-called homeless”.

          Explained above.

          Seems people are either homeless or not homeless.

          True-ish.  Point is, again, the term is misused, that is the significance of my use of the prefix “so-called”.

          Maybe you’re just not that good at expressing yourself in writing.

          Shall we take a poll, dear readers?  Who thinks Alan Miller is “that good” at expressing himself in writing, and who does not?  And if your answer is colored by how much you dislike my politics, you are only making my original point all the rosier.

          Maybe you’re just not that good at thinking you got away with that back-handed attempt at an insult, and maybe you’re not that good at realize that statements like that only besmirch your own character in the eyes of those reading.  Those who are “that good” at reading, that is.

          My apologies if I made you feel uncomfortable.

          You didn’t.  What you should apologize for is implying in your so-called apology that you were capable of making me feel uncomfortable.  Not so much.

        6. Alan Miller

          in truth my comment came directly from your use of the term ‘so-called homeless’ which I find particularly offensive.

          You are welcome to be offended by my use of the term.  If you are being offended by my use of the term as I defined it, then you are particularly welcome to be offended and I accept your apology.  If you are defining the term as you apparently mis-perceived my use of the term, then please re-perceive the term as I have presented it.  If you are feigning offense because you disagree with my politics regarding so-called homeless issues and using your feigned offense as a perceived rhetorical weapon, then I do not accept your so-called apology.   Three choices, you decide.

        7. Mark West

          Alan M: “Three choices, you decide.”

          When you posted a vile personal attack against me on these pages, I said nothing. When you later made a private apology to me for that attack, I accepted it without question. I have, up to this moment, held you in some regard and have respected you and your opinions, even when I did not agree with you, or them. That is no longer true.

           

           

  3. Ron Oertel

    Don:  Alan Miller’s previous words on the subject of the homeless speak for themselves. Your interpretation of his hostility to them was not misplaced.

    This is also from the (same) link to Alan’s previous comment:

    The point is, “homeless” is a bad descriptor for what is really a multi-face problem, and the word is often used politically or to support the Homeless Industrial Complex (look it up).

    Much of this seems accurate.

    Regarding the latter point, I wonder if anyone has looked into how much money is being made from this. (Certainly not by the homeless, themselves.)

    That’s o.k. – “it’s for the kids”, as they say. 😉

    Also – they’re “non-profit”, right?

  4. John Hobbs

    “Regarding the latter point, I wonder if anyone has looked into how much money is being made from this. (Certainly not by the homeless, themselves.)”

    And another one exposes himself.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Only complete morons turn over money (including government money) to organizations without question.

      Unfortunately, a lot of people “expose themselves” in that manner – apparently including you.

      1. Don Shor

        Only complete morons turn over money (including government money) to organizations without question.

        The Respite Center is run by the city. Services are provided by CommuniCare. From the city website:

        On December 17, 2019, the City Council directed staff to begin implementation, which included the appropriation of funding and the authorization to contract with CommuniCare Health Centers and the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency to provide staffing support.  

        Do you know how to use Google?

        1. Ron Oertel

          My comment was made in response to Alan’s comment (from a much-earlier article, that you dug-up) – apparently for the purpose of embarrassing Alan M.  To which you subsequently deleted a response from him.

          As such, it was not a comment regarding this particular arrangement.

          It might be noted, however, that every increased government dollar spent has to be accounted for somewhere else (e.g., in the form of increased revenue, and/or cuts in expenses).  Unless, of course, a surplus exists.

          But (as a side note) I did subsequently search the CommuniCare website, and I’m not seeing tax form disclosures, as I understand is required by the IRS for 501(c)(3) organizations.

          Maybe they’re in there somewhere, but I’m not seeing them.

          https://communicarehc.org/

          In contrast, you can readily see the tax forms (including salary) for an organization like Yolo Food bank, online.

          On a broader level (which is what I understood Alan’s comment to refer to), an interesting topic might be to see which organizations receive funding, how much is provided to salaries, etc.  (I’d put Affordable housing organizations in that same general category.)

          For what it’s worth, I probably would not use some of the “descriptors” that Alan M. used in his earlier comment. But I believe he did so to generate attention to his underlying points.

          To answer your snide question, yes – I do know how to use search engines. But, I’m not running a blog, purporting to be analyzing such results.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Perhaps the postings of the annual reports addresses the specific requirements – not sure.  (Another interesting potential topic.)

          But again, the comment was not made in regard to this arrangement.

          I believe that (in general), people automatically (and sometimes incorrectly) assume that non-profits are more morally-responsible (and warrant less examination) than other types of institutions.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Your understanding of requirements for 501c3 is incorrect –

          Providing a link with a plethora of information is not an argument (one way, or another) regarding my comment.

          What part of my comment do you believe is incorrect, based upon the link you provided?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The requirement is to provide the filing upon request, there is no requirement to post them anywhere.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Thanks.  I initially skipped-over that, and went right on to the subsequent links.  Here’s what it says, right in the beginning:
           

          Tax-exempt nonprofits are required to provide copies, upon request, of their three most recently filed annual information returns (IRS Form 990) and their application for tax-exemption. To demonstrate a commitment to transparency and to make it easier for those seeking financial information to view these documents, many charitable nonprofits post these documents from a link on their websites.

          I guess it’s a lot easier for them to just post it, rather than having someone show up at the door (and getting their foot caught therein, for example – possibly leading to other questions or disputes). 😉

          Another interesting topic might be whether or not contributions are tax-deductible for the “giver”, regardless of their tax status. Maybe save that for another article.

  5. Tia Will

    It seems to me that the negative outcomes questionably attributed to the Respite Center are the very outcomes ( outside defecation, trash accumulation) the Respite Center is likely to make less, not more common by providing appropriate disposal facilities. I think that some who commented specifically on the deleterious effects may, in fact, be confusing cause and effect.

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