Jack Duran, District 1 Update
Placer County’s Homeless Report
As I mentioned last month, Placer County was awaiting the final report and recommendations on homelessness in Placer County. We now have that report. The county-commissioned study took a comprehensive look at homelessness: how pervasive it is; where it comes from; how long people remain homeless; and what services are available. The study also looked at what’s being done well and what needs improvement. Finally, the study made recommendations on what can be done to improve both the array of services and how they’re delivered.
On the positive side, the report points out some things that are being done right. For instance, we have a plethora of resources available to homeless families. That population gets assistance immediately and the success rates of getting families off the streets is very high.
However, in Placer County the percentage of persons who are categorized as chronically homeless is three times the national average and growing. The chronically homeless are those who have been homeless for more than a year. That’s not good and poses a significant hurdle. This is the population that is most hesitant to accept services and, by extension, least likely to stop living on the streets.
The report points out that while there are many services offered to the homeless by numerous agencies and service providers, there is little coordination. While the motivation to assist the homeless is admirable, doing so in this piecemeal approach fashion does little to ameliorate the problem as a whole and may in fact perpetuate it. The issue here is that homeless persons need stability. Having them stay overnight in one place, move to another place for a meal, move to another for clothes and get services at yet another doesn’t provide stability, which is one of the most critical components to getting people off the street.
Because of the diverse geological and sociological areas throughout the county, the study recommends three homeless centers; one located in each of the communities of Roseville, Auburn and Lake Tahoe. The homeless population doesn’t move around very much. For the most part, they stay where they are so services need to be offered where the homeless are located.
The report recommends that a one-stop 24/7 facilities should be located in Auburn and Roseville. The consultant who did the research and compiled the report, Dr. Robert G. Marbut, said the goal is to get these individuals into treatment and stable. After they can think clearly they can better accept programs and services that can assist them to getting back on their feet. Although the report may have been somewhat harsh on existing homeless non-profits, we all can agree that we can do better. I applaud, wholeheartedly, the work that existing groups such as the Gathering Inn and local faith community have done to address the issue thus far, but as your representative, we, as your County government need to do a better and more focused job with this issue.
The Board of Supervisors recently decided to open a temporary, overnight homeless shelter in north Auburn, using barracks that formerly served as a minimum security jail. While I have my reservations about this option, I think it is a good first step. I am also working to address Roseville’s homeless issue as well and envision a twenty-four hour location that serves the homeless, provides them services, medical care and programs to get them on their feet. Doing this would relieve our local hospitals from being inundated with homeless clients, freeing up expensive and scarce medical resources. It could also assist with the homeless issue in densely populated and commercial areas such as Downtown.
Everyone, the local jurisdictions, service providers and stakeholders need to get together to talk about how we can collectively change the homeless situation in Placer County. Homelessness is not an issue that begins and ends at the nearest political boundary. That’s why it will take a cooperative effort to make real improvement.
As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. I always welcome your feedback and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 916-787-8950.