On May 23, 2023, the Sacramento County Department of Homeless Services and Housing
(DHSH) led a workshop on homelessness at the Board of Supervisors meeting to educate and inform the Board, stakeholders, advocates and any interested residents of Sacramento County about the County's response to homelessness. The workshop included presentations by DHSH, Regional Parks, Sheriff Homeless Outreach Team and the City of Sacramento, as well as input from critical agency partners Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) and Sacramento Housing and Re-development Agency (SHRA).
DHSH presented some vital information about the diversity of the homeless population, both in race and ethnicity, as well as age, gender, familial make-up, resources and chronic issues. The County also shared examples of various populations in a series of human-centric vignettes
, designed to bring personal, humanizing stories that combat generalizations and harmful stereotypes. DHSH also shared outcomes of County-funded programs from Fiscal Year 22/23, including encampment outreach, sheltering and rehousing services and programs.
DHSH also acknowledged that while the road to homelessness is rarely a single issue, it often is a symptom of compounding issues such as unstable family life, lack of income, chronic health conditions, behavioral health challenges, involvement in the justice system, and many more. However, the only universal characteristic of people experiencing homelessness is that they lack a permanent home; therefore, to truly address the homelessness crisis, we need to increase access to and availability of safe and affordable housing wrapped with appropriate, client-centered supportive services.
While the Board has been increasing investments in diverse programs since 2017, the increase in homeless rates and the complexity of the challenges faced by the homeless population and the community necessitated the need for a singularly focused staff to work on this issue and to be publicly accountable and accessible.
In late 2022, the Board created DHSH, which became official in January of 2023 and will assume most of the budget and programs from existing departments on July 1, 2023. Part of DHSH's mission as a newly created department is to increase the diversity and accountability of its programs and outcomes.
The goals for year one are to increase communication
from the County both internally to County employees and externally to those living unhoused, advocates, stakeholders, residents and business owners.
This includes increasing engagement
in the community, both with those being served and those wanting more information about the department, the County and the overall work being done to address homelessness in the region.
DHSH is committed to sharing outcomes.
Reporting out data on the number of people that have engaged with our programs and services, the number of people currently being served and results of those that have exited programs and services.
The County is also making a concerted effort to be better storytellers, both in sharing the successes of our clients and programs, but also in our own journalistic reporting. While the County has historically relied on trusted reporting from its local media partners, the need for accuracy and consistency has never been greater. To this end, the County will use its own communication channels to their fullest extent and work to position County staff and trusted partners as the source of information, not the media. The County will also endeavor to not just share the wins and successes, but also the process and the lessons learned from shortfalls.
In conjunction with the workshop, the County and staff from the City of Sacramento also reported on the six-month status update of the City/County Partnership Agreement
Homelessness is a Countywide issue that impacts everyone. Meaningfully addressing the various aspects of each person's homelessness requires creative collaboration and sustainable solutions. On June 7, staff will provide a more in-depth look at the funding surrounding homelessness Countywide. The County is investing more than ever in creating and managing diverse programs, dynamic partnerships and impactful solutions that will work towards the mission of ensuring homelessness is rare overall and brief when it occurs.