Placer progress on homelessness cheered as regional leaders work to align vision
Published April 7, 2023
The estimated number of people experiencing homelessness in Placer County decreased by more than 5% compared to 2022, according to results of the 2023 Point-in-Time homeless census released earlier this week by the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras. The results were presented to the Board of Supervisors this week along with a status update on regional homeless planning efforts and key county initiatives addressing homelessness and its causes.
The regional planning effort, now in its second phase, aims to help local jurisdictions (city and county) identify and coordinate shared approaches to homelessness. This has included developing a set of shared criteria for permanent supportive housing locations – including factors such as proximity to health services, distance from residential neighborhoods and access to basic amenities. These criteria were put to use during the county’s purchase of the Homekey 2.0 property in Roseville, for example -- the largest single addition of permanent supportive housing in recent history at 82 units. The facility will be called Sunrose and is undergoing renovation, set to be completed later this year.
“Homelessness is a complex problem yet having at least some consensus on a community-wide approach along with more open lines of communication between jurisdictions has already shown benefits,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board Chair Jim Holmes, who also sits on the regional group as a county representative. “We hope that with continued engagement we will be positioned to reduce our community’s homelessness numbers even further.”
Additionally, regional leaders have come to agreement on other shared principles that will help guide homeless policy decisions over the coming years:
- Housing and supportive services should be decentralized and distributed throughout the region, not centralized in one location – and should leverage existing mental health, substance use and other core services.
- Local decision-making authority is balanced with input from neighboring jurisdictions, funders and the local Continuum of Care, a group of government, nonprofit and other partners responsible for the distribution of much federal homelessness funding. For example, local governments have encouraged inclusion of more cross-jurisdictional perspectives in procurement processes for homeless services.
- Solutions should balance compassion with accountability.
Participants in the regional process have identified and will continue to explore unmet needs, such as the need for emergency housing and services in South Placer, which has the highest population of unsheltered homeless.
“We’re seeing early success from our mobile temporary shelter in Auburn but need a better South Placer solution,” said District 1 Supervisor Bonnie Gore.
The 50-bed mobile temporary shelter opened on the Placer County Government Center campus in North Auburn in February and has had a consistent population of approximately 45 campers while receiving favorable feedback from residents and staff alike. The new shelter complements several other homeless services at the Placer County Government Center that have been added in the last decade, including a 100-bed emergency shelter, a drop-in homeless services center, and a multidisciplinary homeless outreach team that includes dedicated probation and sheriff’s officers along with behavioral health clinicians from Health and Human Services.
Besides the additional services at the Placer County Government Center in North Auburn, other recent programs the county has launched to help address homelessness and its root causes include:
- Opened Lotus Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Roseville with six urgent care beds for those experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis
- Expanded Mobile Crisis Teams, which will be 24/7 by the end of the year
- Deployed Probation Outreach Vehicle to provide mobile homeless court and other field-based outreach.
Other projects on the horizon include a new board and care facility planned to open this summer in Auburn; another behavioral health urgent care site in Roseville; a pending application for Homekey 3 for permanent or interim homeless housing; and the mental health and vocational facility at the South Placer Justice Center, which broke ground last week.