Grand Jury Looks into Homelessness in Yolo County

Photo courtesy of juror, Daniel Gumpy

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Woodland, CA – This week the Yolo County Grand Jury issued its “Final Consolidated Reported” for 2023-24.  Among the five reports pressed in this term, was a report on the Issue of Homelessness in Yolo County.

The Grand Jury investigated the status of homelessness in Yolo County and found it “to be a multifaceted problem that is being dealt with, and funded by, a myriad of federal, state, county, city, and private organizations.”

The Grand Jury interviewed members of local government, service providers, and individuals who are currently or who have recently been homeless.

In addition, they toured homeless shelters, transitional and permanent housing complexes and attended multiple governmental meetings.

The Yolo County Homeless and Poverty Action Coalition (HPAC) is a local non-profit organization that assists in coordination, strategy, and funding efforts.

A second group, the Executive Commission to Address Homelessness, acts as an advisory commission to the city councils, Yolo County Board of Supervisors, and other organizational bodies. It consists of one elected official from each of the four major Yolo cities—Davis, West Sacramento, Winters and Woodland, an elected county supervisor, and a representative from HPAC.

The report found that, for the most part, the cities in Yolo County “address the homelessness issue independently. Cooperation between the cities is not common. Each city has different approaches to the homeless situation.”

The report notes, “The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates that jurisdictions receiving federal funds from HUD perform a biennial count, the PIT Count, of unhoused, sheltered, and unsheltered persons. Yolo County collects this data on a specific night, utilizing county employees, non-profit organizations, and the various city police departments.”

According to the PIT count taken on February 22, 2022, 746 individuals in Yolo County were experiencing homelessness on that particular day.

The most recent PIT count was taken in January 2024.

They note, “As of the writing of this report, the results are still being tabulated and the report has not yet been released. Preliminary data, however, shows an increase in unhoused individuals and families in Yolo County.”

The report found difficulties in accessing housing.

“The needs of unhoused persons in Yolo County are many and varied. In conversation with several individuals, the need most often mentioned was for permanent affordable housing,” the Grand Jury writes. “Unfortunately, even when housing might be an option, individuals often encounter a variety of barriers.”

They found: “Applications are often cumbersome for both the unhoused persons and the service providers to fill out. Even a requirement to fill out a form with a specific color ink can be problematic to some. Accessing services can often be bureaucratic in nature and difficult to navigate. When support is available to help individuals with the application process, it often requires the applicant to travel to where the help is provided. For many this presents an additional barrier to securing housing.”

The Fourth and Hope facility sits on approximately five acres of land near the intersection of County Road 102 and East Beamer Street in Woodland.

One of the big cited problems is transportation.

The Grand Jury writes, “Due to the remote location from downtown Woodland, a 10-passenger van was donated by the City of Woodland in an effort to mitigate the distance problem. Due to staffing issues or lack of staff with required licenses, the van is generally not in use.”

There have been efforts to establish a bus stop close to the facility, as the closest stop is currently 1.5 miles away.

However, that has run into hurdles.

“The Yolo County Transportation District (YCTD) submitted a request to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) for approval of the bus stop. SACOG ruled that there were no unmet transportation needs in this case. They cited the availability of the aforementioned van and the low total transport demand as reasons,” the Grand Jury writes.

Respite centers offer daytime locations with services to unhoused individuals. These are services such as laundry facilities, meals, showers, and indoor spaces to just get out of the weather.

The Grand Jury noted two respite centers, one in Davis and one at Fourth and Hope in Woodland.

They write, “The number of respite centers in Yolo County, however, is limited, and often they are only open during limited daytime hours and generally not open on the weekends.”

Among the findings were, “Residents of shelters and respite centers may often require support with housing options, application submittals, and other services. Without this support many individuals’ needs go unmet.”

Among the recommendations are help with accessing services and addressing the transportation issue to Fourth and Hope.

The Grand Jury did not ask the city of Davis to respond to this report.

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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