WOODLAND’S HOMELESS HOUSING PROJECT TO OPEN BY YEAR-END
The housing is in place as is a mobile kitchen, restrooms and laundry. Now, all that’s needed is power and furnishing for a one-stop homeless shelter in Woodland to become operational.
The $2.3 million, 6,500-square-foot East Bamer Street shelter is now in the final phases of preparation before it accepts the first of 70 people in need of services. Ultimately, after the coronavirus pandemic has passed, the facility will be able to handle 100 people, providing them with healthcare services and job counseling.
A collaboration with Yolo County and Fourth & Hope, the project has been under construction since June and is now being touted by the Woodland City Council as a model for providing wrap-around services to get the homeless of the streets.
During a briefing before the council during a Tuesday night Zoom meeting, Stephen Coyle, Woodland’s deputy community development director, talked about the facility located at 1901 E. Beamer Street, northwest of County Road 102, saying that it was ready for occupancy once furnishings have been moved in by staff with Fourth & Hope, scheduled for this week.
The shelter and ancillary buildings take up eight acres of a 128-acre site donated by the city. The remaining 120 acres will remain city property.
The council voted 5-0 Tuesday to OK a series of property conveyances that allows the Friends of the Mission to take over and operate the facility now that certificates of occupancy have been approved. A temporary certificate had been issued earlier because power was being provided by generators due to a delay in hook-ups by PG&E that was expected no later than Dec. 23.
Coyle said a mobile kitchen, five-stall bathroom, and laundry have all be placed on-site and that “for all essential purposes construction has been done. Residents are expected to start moving in the week of Dec. 28, which should remove a percentage of homeless people from the streets of Woodland.”
Now, Coyle told the council, further phases are under consideration, including providing bus service to the site, or a “non-commercial” van operated by staff at Fourth & Hope, construction in January of pre-built micro-housing and the construction sometime in the next 18 months of a new Walter’s House that’s now located next to the emergency shelter and serves those with substance use disorder treatment.
Mayor Rich Lansburgh thanked Coyle — who has been shepherding the project from its inception two years ago — for his “labor of love.”
Council members, including Mayra Vega and Victoria Fernandez, lauded the fast-paced construction of the facility with Vega saying she was “proud to be part of a city that is doing this.”
Outgoing Councilman Angel Barajas, who was elected earlier this year to serve on the Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District, said he remembered when “this hit the council in 2018. The first proposal was to have a ‘tent city’ and we found that (wouldn’t be a good idea). But all of this couldn’t have been done without Steve and Ken (Hiatt, city manager) and all of our partners. … That we got this done in two years is phenomenal.”
Stallard added that it was important to “recall a little history here,” saying as recently as three years ago homeless was becoming rampant in our community … We worked really hard to get our public to understand our obligations under the law.”
He also credited people such as minister Larry Love and resident Kathy Trott — who is working on a “tiny houses” initiative elsewhere in the city for “picking up the ball” and being of service.
“I can’t speak for a large city like Sacramento, but there’s not another mid-sized city (and Woodland is a mid-sized city) that is doing anything like this,” he said, adding. “It isn’t over either. In some way’s it’s just beginning. We’re trying to provide a concentrated situation where we can provide wrap-around services instead of going one-on-one.”
The shelter is part of a trend across the state for providing a single source of services. In Woodland’s case, the centerpiece of the project, for now, is a single-story apartment-like building.
Although it will only be able to provide 70 beds for now due to the pandemic, that is still more than Fourth & Hope can now offer. That facility in downtown Woodland has 48 beds with 17 more in its family shelter.
Of the $2.3 million to build the present building, $1.25 million is coming from the Affordable Housing In-Lieu Fees Fund, $149,000 from the Spring Lake Off Site Affordable Housing Fund, $500,000 from Yolo County, and $400,000 from Friends of the Mission.
It was due to the growing number of homeless — now estimated at nearly 400 individuals — that the city created the Homeless Outreach Street Team under the Police Department, which works to identify them, offer them assistance, or arrest them if needed, as well as identify and clean up campsites.
In mid-April this year, the council declared an emergency and authorized the Emergency Shelter Project, enabling the city to determine the work would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act as a project undertaken to prevent or mitigate an emergency. That action ultimately led to a series of decisions in May that provided a no-bid contract that went to Broward Construction for the facility.
Earlier, Coyle said the East Beamer Way Emergency Shelter represents a “paradigm shift” in serving Woodland’s unhoused, both current and future through the provision of both shelter and services.
Completion of the site had been hoped for by Nov. 14, but the pandemic and the problems of getting power put everything back by several weeks. Earlier, some of the homeless, who frequent the downtown area, were reported to be making their way toward the northeastern part of the city awaiting completion of the shelter.