Historically, the challenge of supporting people experiencing homelessness in Sacramento has been concentrated downtown and along the riverbanks. Over the past two years, the issue has impacted most neighborhoods in the City, including Curtis Park. Calls for enforcement of homeless encampments in Crocker Village, along the Broadway Corridor, and in our parks are becoming more common.
While the individual problems may be becoming more neighborhood-based, the solutions stretch across the city, county and region. I thought it important to update you on what the City is doing, on its own and in collaboration with the County and others.
I continue to believe that we are on a path to finding a solution.
The challenge is immediate and long term. Over time, we know the solution is permanent housing, coupled with wrap-around services. As you may know, Sacramento is the only city in the state to apply for and receive a Whole Person Grant award. These funds, totaling $64 million over three years, will allow us to build a system of intensive case management and medical care.
We are in ongoing discussions with the county about how to align with the county’s existing mental health and substance abuse systems for homeless individuals. The city’s goal is to get 2,000 homeless people into permanent housing and also provide wrap-around services to another 1,800 folks at risk of becoming homeless.
Solving homelessness and our housing crisis go hand-in-hand. Sacramento has a two percent vacancy rate. This is forcing prices to sky-rocket and making it difficult for many people to stay in their homes. Part of the solution is increasing housing supply, and we are working to ease the permit and building processes to attract more development, particularly infill. Also, we have updated ordinances to allow for ‘tiny homes’ and more ‘granny flats.’
I would like the city to explore how we can support community land trusts that could acquire land to be used for affordable housing. On our recent study mission to Austin, Texas, we learned that Austin has created a Housing Conservancy that will acquire and hold medium priced housing to keep it from being purchased, improved and rented at exorbitant rates.
In addition to a lack of affordable housing, gentrification is a real issue in Oak Park and other areas. No one in the country has solved this problem: How do we support the renaissance of neighborhoods while at the same time create an environment where people are able to maintain their homes at affordable costs?
These are some of the most important issues the council and the city face. I am committed to working with my colleagues on the council and our neighborhood leaders to look for solutions for Curtis Park and the city.