Community Conversation on Housing: Dana Bailey – Social Services and Housing

Dana Bailey – image from screenshot from Davis Media Access Video

Editor’s Note: On Thursday, Interfaith Housing Justice of Davis presented “Davis Housing Solutions: A Community Conversation” – a forum at the Davis Community Church.  What follows are the full comments by Dana Bailey – Director Department of Social Services, City of Davis.

Full comments by Dana Bailey

As the mayor explained, we have started a new department at the city of Davis and a lot of that is thanks to the community, a lot of the work that the council saw needed to be done in the community and a lot of the support. So I’m here to talk about what our department does and how it integrates with what we need to be seeing for the people that, for folks that are the most vulnerable in our community. So next slide please. So let me tell you a little bit about our social services and housing department and you’ll see that our mission is really to serve the most vulnerable people in Davis in an equitable manner. So most of what we do through our department is serving people that are extremely low to low to moderate income.

And so for our department, as we began the process of putting it together, we really had simply three goals. The first one was let’s get staffed up. Let’s get people that are subject matter experts that can talk to us about what social services we need to have, how do we look at affordable housing and how do we address that in the city of Davis. Second, it’s how do we want to proceed? And that was to become a data-driven department. What is the information that’s out there telling us who are we going to speak to and what agencies are we going to work with so we can get data to kind of decide where do we want to put our resources? And then finally it’s where are our partnerships going to be? And we were extremely fortunate in having a number of community partners and provider partners and relationships with YOLO County Health and Human Services Agency and with Yolo County Housing Authority to kind of pull together what are you seeing, what historically are you seeing, and then what’s that impact in Davis and what can this department do about it?

Next slide. So one of the things that our department really does is because we’re looking at vulnerable people, we wanted to find out, so what will inform how we move forward? So we really looked at what are the social determinants of health, what makes for a healthy community? And those are some of the factors that from the World Health Organization standpoint, these are the factors that make for a healthy community all the things that make you thrive. And for our department, our focus in this realm is really affordable housing and social supports. And then we have partnerships that we have with other community organizations and other government agencies that are working in those other arenas so that we’re all working in tandem. Next slide please.

So when the department came together, we saw immediately that there were some challenges that Davis faced and really the challenges that Davis faced are challenges that are being faced across the country and are really intense here in California.

And you’ve all seen housing affordability and availability is very high on the list of a barrier to a really solid community. Our service providers have been doing a lot of work in this arena for a number of years. Their capacity is really tight right now. It’s hard to hire people, it’s hard to bring them to Davis to do the work. They’ve been doing it for a long time and the landscape has changed. So that’s something that’s a challenge. We looked at the lack of uniform data capture from all of these different sources. The availability of treatment bids for people that are experiencing severe mental illness or have a substance abuse disorder. We saw that funding. A lot of people come up to me and go, the state’s got all this money, and I go, yes, they do. It’ll last for one year. What happens after that?

How do we sustain the funding? Where do we find sources that are sustainable so we can continue to do the work? And then where’s our combined community vision and plan? There are a lot of very involved folks here in Davis, very intelligent folks here in Davis, and everyone’s got an idea of what should happen. It’s kind of what’s that story they tell about having a blind person look at an elephant and everybody’s got a different opinion about what’s happening. We kind of had that going on here too. So we as a department wanted to know how do we address that? So we saw a lot of other opportunities as well. There are opportunities for us to engage more with our local landlords to see what challenges are you faced with and how can we connect people that are unhoused or at risk of being unhoused?

How do we connect them to you in a way that makes sense for all parties? We talked about improving our provider relationships. How do we reach out to Davis community meals and housing and how do we reach out to interfaith housing justice? What do we do to kind of bring everyone to the table to have conversations about what it is we’re seeing? We thought to address this, vary these different approaches. Having a uniform homeless strategic plan would help us as a community come together and say, this is what we think should happen when it comes to housing. And then here are the goals that we want to achieve and here’s the document and what we’re going to work from. We talked about re-imagining what housing options look like. There’s affordable housing and that’s what our arena is. But in affordability there are a number of things that you can do.

Are there ways that we can have shared housing in Davis? What would that look like? So trying to be innovative about the kind of housing approach we take and then funding opportunities through public and private partnerships. As our friend from mutual housing just said, there’s a lot of different arenas for getting access to funding, but having all of those things talk together and work together in a cohesive way is always a challenge. How do we facilitate some of that happening and then looking at those evolving funding streams and really being mindful of, yes, we’d like to do something, but if we can’t sustain it in the community, is that a good use of a resource? Is this where we really want to be? Next slide please.

So everything that we do is really based on the housing continuum and that continuum is very broad. You can see it starts with folks that are unhoused on the street and that may move into shelter, that may move to transitional housing. Then maybe they get support when they move into their housing. There’s community housing and social housing, there’s subsidized market rate housing that’s available all the way up to home ownership. That’s the continuum and part of the challenge that all cities in California are faced with right now, they’re blockages on that path. There are folks that are in their ownership housing and are going, I can’t leave this house. I have this rate. I can’t move. Or if I do move, I can’t find someplace else to go. So that gets blocked up. And so people that are in rentals that are ready to start moving up their path has been blocked.

And if the rentals aren’t moving, then where are people that are trying to transition off of the street? Where are they going to go? So the whole system right now has got a number of blockages in it. So we are always talking about where can we have an impact on this housing continuum? Where does it make sense? Next slide please.

So here’s a little some quick data about what we have here in Davis. So right now we do have affordable for sale units and that means there are housing units that are restricted to people of a certain income. They have to be low income, they have to income qualify in order to purchase this unit. We had an inventory of about 125 of these. There’s been a lot of movement in the sales right now. So this year so far we’ve sold four of those homes to other qualified buyers.

We’ve got two pending sales going right now. But we as a department are making sure that these units that are really reserves specifically for people that income qualify are available to them. They have priority for those units. And then we’ve also, there are 48 affordable apartment complexes here in Davis. The city does not manage those complexes, but we are aware of them. And what we do is we make where those units are available on our website. So you can see where some of these affordable housing complexes are. They’re about 2,600 units. And then there’s some set asides. They’re not our set asides, but there are some set asides, like one set aside is specifically for farm workers. So there’s that too. So if you want to find more information about affordable affordability and affordable housing, you can find it on the city’s website and that’s the site.

So my question when I talk to Davis community members and a number of the advocacy organizations in town and just interested people because the one thing across the board that Davis shares is people are very compassionate here. They want to see something done, they want to be involved. And if you’re a part of an organization, the thing that I ask organizations to do is really take a look at where you are in your organization right now, what’s happening with your organization. So if you know what your mission is, fantastic, we are going to ask you, what can you do as an organization to help us along the housing continuum? What kinds of things can you contribute to do that? But also think about what can’t you do right now? There’s some things that you may have been able to do pre covid that you just don’t have the capacity to do anymore.

So really narrow in on what is our focus, how does that align with our mission? What do we have the capacity to do and what can we honestly say we wish we could do? Maybe we can’t do it ourselves, but maybe we could do it in collaboration with other people. Understand what that is and then what are you willing to do? Because it’s one thing to propose that we should have X, that’s a good way to look at things, but how are we going to actually make that actionable when we develop our homeless strategic plan, which will be coming out soon. I’m very excited about when we have our homeless strategic plan, take a look at those goals. What things can you actually take action on where you can spend and devote some time to help us to move along those goals? And if you can’t do it by yourself, is there some way that you can collaborate with us to make things happen? So those are the important things that we think in order to impact the housing continuum. That’s what we ask of the community through our department. How do we make sure that the people that are most vulnerable in Davis, how do we use some of that collective effort to make sure we meet people where they are and support them where they are on their journey to being housed?

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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1 Comment

  1. Matt Williams

    I was impressed by Dana.  Her presentation was focused and informative.  It also presented (in my opinion) some interesting challenges for the community.

    First and Foremost was the Next Steps slide … especially the first bullet item “Is it mission and vision aligned?”

    She was very clear about Mission when she said … “So let me tell you a little bit about our social services and housing department and you’ll see that our mission is really to serve the most vulnerable people in Davis in an equitable manner. So most of what we do through our department is serving people that are extremely low to low to moderate income.”

    She was also remarkably candid and perceptive about Vision when she said … “where’s our combined community vision and plan? There are a lot of very involved folks here in Davis, very intelligent folks here in Davis, and everyone’s got an idea of what should happen. It’s kind of what’s that story they tell about having a blind person look at an elephant and everybody’s got a different opinion about what’s happening.”

    A lot of people have been saying for quite a while that Davis has no Vision of what it wants to be in 5 years, 10 years, 25 years.  We can add Dana’s name to the list of those people.  Until we have a shared community Vision we will continue to be like an ant hill that has been kicked by a horse.  Lots of frantic random activity, but little or no efficiency, effectiveness or accountability.  Very little sustainability as well.

     

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