Board approves extension of North Auburn temporary homeless shelter for up to five years

Published on May 10, 2017

The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a conditional use permit to allow an emergency homeless shelter at 11442 E. Avenue in North Auburn for a maximum five year term as the county continues to explore alternative options for a permanent site.

The board also authorized the execution of new services and site access contracts with Volunteers of America to operate the shelter for another year until June 30, 2018. The board requested that county staff process a request for proposals to seek other potential shelter operators prior to the end of the initial term of the services and site access agreements.

Staff will return to the board annually throughout the term of the use permit to report on compliance of the shelter operator with the terms of the two agreements and the conditional use permit conditions, and continue searching for an alternate location. Staff will also work with partners to refine metrics around whether efforts are succeeding in reducing the incidence of homelessness.

“As citizens, we have a moral obligation to do the best we possibly can,” said District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt. “In my view, we've made huge progress. Do we have the perfect site? Probably not. But we’ll be aggressive in our search and in seeking community input.”

The county continues to explore long-term solutions to homelessness throughout the region, from the greater Auburn area to south Placer and Lake Tahoe.

The terms of both the conditional use permit and the contracts come after incorporating feedback from a variety of community stakeholders, including the county’s Planning Commission and the North Auburn Municipal Advisory Council.

Under the new $1,021,835 services contract with Volunteers of America, the shelter will incorporate several changes, including shifting to a 24/7 residential model instead of separating the shelter sections into residential and overflow. The residential model serves clients with direct supportive services, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment or job training, and the overflow section operated on a nightly basis and focused on meeting basic needs like sleep and food.

The shelter will serve up to 100 individuals and increase staffing by adding another case manager and multiple shift monitors so that at least three shift monitors will be on staff at all times.

In recent months, the county has made other adjustments to promote the safety of shelter residents as well as people living and working nearby. The Placer County Health and Human Services Department, Sheriff’s Office and Probation Department collaborated to form the Homeless Community Liaison Program, which tracks and assists homeless individuals and monitors the neighborhood to proactively prevent problems.

The shelter opened at its present location on a temporary use basis in June 2015. It currently serves an average of 89 people each night, 13 percent of whom are veterans. In the last eight months, 63 shelter residents have moved into rental housing; 23 have gained employment; 50 have received treatment for substance use disorders and 145 have acquired health insurance.

New county initiatives such as the Whole Person Care pilot program aim to boost these results even further. Whole Person Care will better coordinate services for chronically homeless people and increase their access to housing, targeting approximately 100 people each year for the next five years. The county is also making progress in identifying affordable housing opportunities, such as an 18-unit apartment complex expected to close escrow in Roseville.

“Prevention is also a huge focus and priority. It’s important that we as a community do all we can to keep people out of homelessness,” said District 5 Supervisor and Board Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery.

“Our approach to addressing homelessness must be comprehensive and align a variety of resources around the most vulnerable individuals in our community,” said Health and Human Services Director Jeff Brown. “That’s the only way we can prevent problems from growing, and create lasting change.”

Though it is still being finalized, preliminary data from a January “point in time” count conducted by the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras suggests that the county’s homeless population remains above 500 people, and there has been a decline in the number of homeless veterans and families.