Jack Duran, District 1 Update
District 1 Update October 2015
Jack Duran, Supervisor District 1
Temporary Homeless Shelter Use Permit
In February the Placer County Board of Supervisors took action to provide an Auburn area non profit, Right Hand Auburn, the opportunity operate a shelter with a 90-day trial period. The shelter would be limited in its operation, not operated on a twenty-four hour basis. On August 18th, Right Hand Auburn brought forward a proposal to the board of supervisors that had a component of possibly expanding the shelter to a 24/7 model, from 47 persons to close to 100 persons. . This proposal was in sync with what leading homelessness expert Dr. Robert Marbut recommended in his study on homelessness in Auburn, and presented to the board earlier this year.
At the board meeting, Right Hand Auburn provided background information about how the shelter was working with regard to serving a number of homeless folks in the Auburn area, and shared that the shelter was full almost every night.
I went into the meeting that day wanting to go a little bit more slowly than what was being requested but, after listening to some of the residents concerns, and hearing advocates say that it would be important to provide the homeless with access to services for a longer period of time, it came to me that it might not be a bad idea to expand to the 24/7 model.
I was really hopeful, and really glad to hear that folks were having their issues addressed at the shelter - that they had a place to stay, and were working on putting their lives back together. I heard some of the homeless staying in the shelter say they are getting jobs and that having access to the shelter is helping them turn their lives around.
My research also indicated that each homeless person costs on average $40,000 per year in services related to police, fire, medical, jail, probation, etc. Chronic homeless persons, persons homeless for more than four years, cost much more. In Santa Clara County the cost for chronic homeless persons is estimated at $89,000 per person, per year, which over a period of five years is estimated to cost that community over two billion dollars.
Here in Placer County, Dr. Marbut’s study indicates we have 540 homeless persons. Using simple math these individuals cost us close to 22 million dollars per year. These costs are spread throughout the County, for police, fire, medical and County services, services you the tax payer pay for and are entitled to. This is your money and I want to work on doing something to reduce this cost to all of us and put these people on the road to contributing more positively to the community. That’s really what my motivation is to assist these folks. That’s why I changed my position on going at a slower pace. Also, I don’t view a shelter as a hand out, I view it as a hand up, so that they can resume contributing in the community in later years. If we can transition these people from being a drain on the community to taxpaying and productive citizens, our job is complete.
So, the board approved the 24/7 model, upping the number to 75 folks, which is an increase of 25 beds, with the option to go more than 75 if county staff recommends it after reviewing the budget and the proposed tenant improvements to the current shelter facility. Once their analysis is complete, they can come back and recommended supplemental funding for the shelter, if necessary.
In addition to a potential financial contribution recommendation, County staff will also provide recommendations of what the proper tenant improvements would be and what the conditions of serving the homeless through Health and Human Services, or volunteers, would entail. Services are the cornerstone of recovering from homelessness, if we cannot address their psychological, drug or alcohol use the cycle of homelessness will continue for them.
It’s always been my position, that this was a temporary situation at the Placer County Government Center campus because of the nature of where it is located, near a residential area, and because we have employees in the area. However, because of its proximity to vital County services and the County Jail, the location is also optimum.
I think the expansion to the larger facility and being available 24/7 could reduce the amount of contact that the homeless have with the nearby resident population, and at the same time they can have a higher concentration in engaging those services that they need to get back on their feet.
I want to thank all the people that have shown interest in this issue for your calls, emails and letters of support. I also want to thank the area churches and non profits for their continued dedication to serving the homeless community. The decision to go down the road of a temporary shelter in Auburn was not easy, and it generated considerable amount of negative commentary, but it was the right thing to do now and because the area is likely to grow in the future, and the problem along with it. In coming months I will inform you of the possibility of a similar shelter project, with a transitional housing component, possibly being located near the Santucci Center off Industrial in the County. It is a concept to assist addressing the Roseville area homeless situation. I look forward to engaging all of you in the discussion and ideas for this concept. Together, government, business, clergy and non-profits will have to work together to make, shape and implement the concept to be successful.
As always, it is a pleasure representing you and Placer County. I always welcome your feedback and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 916-787-8950.