Davis City Council Extends Daytime Respite Center

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By Fatima Perez 

DAVIS, CA – On Tuesday night, the Davis City Council received an update on the Daytime Respite Center for Unhoused Individuals and approved a resolution to continue the contract with CommuniCare Health Centers until June 2023. 

Dagoberto Fierros, management analyst for the city, recommended council to “approve [a] resolution to authorize the City Manager to extend the contract with CommuniCare Health Centers for Respite Center Services through June 2023.” 

Fierros explained that the center opened on Feb. 24, 2020, and was created to improve the quality of life for those experiencing homelessness in the city of Davis by “providing assistance and services, counseling, behavior and medical care, housing and other needs such as veteran services and daily meals.”

Fierros also stated that the Respite Center was created to “fill the gap” since there was not a center to provide assistance to unhoused individuals in the city of Davis. Efforts to fill this gap happened because there were 114 individuals experiencing homelessness in 2009 and that increased to 190 in 2019.

It has been 12 months since the recommendation to extend the service from January 2021 to January 2022 and, since then, there have been efforts to improve communication between the Respite Center and the neighborhood. 

City staff started providing quarterly updates to the neighborhood via email that included information such as program intake, data, and police calls for service to the general area so that a more proactive approach could be established with things happening outside or near the center. 

On February 17, 2021, during a neighborhood meeting, data was collected from a survey and Fierros presented that “79% of the 95 survey respondents felt informed about the center” and “76% of respondents have experienced negative impacts to their neighborhood since the center opened.” 

This neighborhood meeting showed that there was, “an increase in homeless  population in the area, increase in trash and littering, and increased general safety concerns.” 

The neighborhood advocated for “solutions to mitigate general safety concerns, measures to crack down illegal activity in the area, [and] ways to beautify [the] entrance.” 

Yvonne Page, respite supervisor and licensed behavioral health clinician, shared that from February 2021 to February 2022, there were a total of 5,021 visits and 255 unique individuals. Additional data collected from the individuals utilizing the Respite Center services demonstrated that 81% are from Davis and 2% are unknown due to facing homelessness for a long period of time and moving through different towns. 

Social Services Commision Chair Judy Ennis and Vice Chair Rachael Fulp-Cooke presented the recommendation made in the last Social Services Commission meeting “to extend CommuniCare’s contract through June 2023, and explore opportunities for Peer Support Advocate Roles.”

One public commenter stated, “I cannot understand why the city would not want to prioritize the needs of residents who are paying property taxes.” The commenter reminded council that the Respite Center has negatively impacted the neighborhood and that, based on the neighborhood survey, nearly 90% of respondents have not noticed any positive impact. 

Two additional public commenters expressed similar concerns. However, input such as beautifying the center and requesting equity to have a cohesive neighborhood was voiced. 

One public commenter expressed full support to extend the contract due to the assistance it has provided for many and expressed how the center is a valuable resource for the city of Davis. 

Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs pointed out that the neighborhood survey shows that there is room for improvement and there is better work to be done; however, only about 90 people responded to the survey within a couple blocks from the center. He advocated for the extension of the contract for an additional 16 months. 

Councilmember Dan Carson also supported the recommendation but provided context that “COVID hit with full force just [as the center] was opening, and so we had to operate with odd things going on.”

Councilmember Will Arnold stated that “we had to come to the conclusion that there is no good place to put it, but it still has to go somewhere.”

Councilmember Josh Chapman reinforced the idea of mitigation efforts to make a cohesive relationship between the neighborhood and the Respite Center. 

The Davis City Council unanimously voted to extend CommuniCare’s contract through June 2023. 

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About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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