Schenirer seeks input on homeless shelter plan

Councilmember Jay Schenirer is seeking neighborhood feedback on two proposed sites for temporary homeless shelters – one in the Florin Road RT station parking lot, and the other in an empty lot on X Street near Alhambra Boulevard.

Schenirer has conducted community meetings since late January but continues to accept comment at his City Hall office. City Council is expected to vote on both sites April 23.

The X Street location is a vacant lot owned by Caltrans near where X Street dead-ends into Alhambra Boulevard in Oak Park, just northeast of the SCNA boundary and at the northern edge of Schenirer’s District 5. The Florin Road site is along the southern boundary of Schenirer’s district. Both shelters are intended to be temporary facilities that help the homeless get IDs, housing and jobs.

“I think it’s really important that the shelters provide priority placement for individuals experiencing homelessness in each area,” Schenirer said. “Along the Broadway W/X corridor, there are any number of homeless individuals every night. I get a lot of complaints about people living under the freeways.”

In December, Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked all City Council members to suggest at least one location for a homeless triage shelter in each district. In addition to Schenirer’s proposals, District 3 Councilmember Jeff Harris recommended space on the Cal Expo property at the southern end of Ethan Way.

Locations need to be paved, have access to water and electrical utilities, and provide enough space for at least 100 people. Because Florin Road is already paved, its startup time could be as little as six months. However, the X Street location will need to be prepped and paved, Schenirer said, and could take up to a year to be operational.

The city is requesting a 30-month lease for the Florin Road shelter, which would be open through Spring 2021. Lease terms for the X Street location are still pending. All shelters will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with nightly curfews.

Schenirer called the triage shelters “low barrier to entry” because they will accept individuals with pets, partners and possessions. Adult men and women must be referred by the Police Impact Team or homeless outreach partners, who will arrange for intake and transportation.

Each shelter site would include a 60-by-100-foot Sprung shelter, which looks like a large tent but has doors, windows, heating, air conditioning, toilets and showers. Although the structure does not have a kitchen, Schenirer said food would be brought in to serve three meals a day. Private counseling and other administrative offices would likely be housed in separate modular units to be installed on site.

Support services may include health care, assistance with housing and job searches, and even a veterinarian to help care for pets. The city will also provide a free transit pass to improve access to transportation.

Funding for the proposed 100-bed shelters will come from $15.7 million in Measure U revenue, state grants and private donations. The total cost for a two-year program is estimated about $40 million, Schenirer said.

The city’s first triage shelter at 2040 Railroad Drive opened in December 2017 and was set to close in March, but operations are being extended through May. That 200-bed shelter, managed by Volunteers of America, cost about $500,000 to start up and about $411,000 a month to operate.

More than 500 people have exited the Railroad Drive shelter, with 37 percent of them moving to permanent or transitional housing. Crime statistics within a half-mile of that location have decreased since the homeless facility opened there, Schenirer said.

Andy Hernandez, who lives in the Woodlake neighborhood of North Sacramento near the Railroad Drive facility, wrote a recent op-ed for The Sacramento Bee in which he said the facility had overcome his initial skepticism.

“The people who are in Railroad are the people who were just not reachable,” Hernandez told EngageSac, an online city publication. “I want to see this expanded. I’m hoping to see this (plan) built out as quickly as it possibly can.”

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