Following months of diligent and deliberate work by elected officials and staff, the Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday a partnership agreement to increase outreach, shelter and services to people experiencing homelessness, particularly within the boundaries of the City of Sacramento.
The five-year agreement identifies the roles and responsibilities of the City and County and demonstrates a shared commitment to reducing unsheltered homelessness through systems-level changes and strategies identified by the recently adopted Local Homeless Action Plan
. It includes joint outreach teams, hundreds of additional shelter beds and a commitment to do “whatever it takes” to meet the behavioral health needs of people experiencing homelessness.
As part of the agreement, the City and County will create 10 new “encampment engagement teams”– staffed by workers from both organizations -- to provide intensive outreach, assessment, navigation, service delivery and shelter placements to as many people as possible in encampments within the City limits. Teams will include behavioral health workers from the County who have the ability and qualifications to provide a behavioral health assessment and enroll or link people to an appropriate level of mental health and substance use services. Additional services, including individual needs assessments, shelter referrals, linkages with supportive services, and general navigation support will be provided by the City’s Department of Community Response (DCR) and through contracted outreach providers funded by Managed Care Plans as part of the CalAIM initiative. There are currently two teams that have been mobilized within city limits since October.
The City has identified the initial locations to deploy these multi-disciplinary teams based on its assessment of which camps present the greatest health and safety risk. Services such as solid waste removal, code enforcement and public safety protocol will be provided. The teams will develop an individual plan for each encampment based on the unique circumstances and needs of the camp occupants, and have the ability to spend the necessary time in each camp to find individualized solutions. Best practices suggest that on-going, multiple visits over time are needed to establish trust with camp occupants along with real-time access to services and shelter; these teams are oriented to dedicate this level of effort.
County behavioral health workers will conduct behavioral health assessments in the field and in City shelters and enroll people in services. They will have the ability to write 5150 holds and petition the court to require people to receive outpatient treatment under Laura’s Law as appropriate. While it will take six months to ramp up the full 10 teams, City and County teams have already begun working together in top-priority sites in advance of the agreement’s adoption.
The County, through the agreement, also will commit to establishing and funding a new Community Outreach Recovery Empowerment (CORE) Behavioral Health Center within City limits and expanding its substance use disorder residential treatment.
In addition, the County will commit to adding 200 shelter beds within 12 months and 200 more shelter beds within 36 months. If the City provides a shovel-ready site, the County will agree to operate 200 additional shelter beds within the City.
The agreement also sets forth provisions for accountability and measuring progress with reports in open session to both the City Council and County Board of Supervisors.