Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Homeless Approach That Works

Our organization called for this type of approach to dealing with the chronic homeless—those who illegally camp along the Parkway—as the only one with proven effectiveness; in our 2005 report on the Lower Reach.

It is good to see local leadership responding to the homeless issue in this way as it will help the homeless and the adjacent Parkway communities who have been fearful of using the Parkway due to the widespread illegal camping and the related crime.

An excerpt.

Time for an inside approach
New strategy to aid the area's homeless: Provide shelter now, look for recovery later
By Christina Jewett - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sacramento city housing leaders toured airy and clean complexes Monday where once-homeless people live, hoping to form a "before" image of services in Sacramento.

The groundwork for "after" is expected to be laid today, when the Sacramento City Council and County Board of Supervisors are expected to approve a 10-year plan to address homelessness, pledging to add 500 units of housing to the existing stock within five years.

The plan also lays out a new way of dealing with homelessness. While in the past officials expected homeless people to address mental health and substance-abuse problems before getting a permanent home, the new plan calls for housing first -- and life changes later.

"(The plan) is not just to park people, not just to hide them away, not just to give them a 72-hour hold in a detox facility -- but really to give them a home," Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo said Monday at a news conference announcing the plan.

Officials estimate that there are 11,000 homeless people in the county over the course of a year and 3,000 shelter beds and short-term and long-term housing units.

The 10-year plan is targeted at the group of about 1,600 Sacramentans who are considered "chronically" homeless and for years filter from doorways to emergency rooms to jail.

Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson said the plan brings a new dimension to the "continuum of care" idea that the county has been using, which phases people through shelters to transitional to permanent housing with counseling and social-service support.

He said the county has operated that way for about 15 years.

Still, he said, about 10 percent of homeless people reject county and nonprofit services and line sidewalks downtown and camp along the American River.