SUPERVISORS RECEIVE UPDATE ON YOLO COUNTY’S PLAN TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS
Yolo County’s most recent Point in Time Count revealed that the county had experienced an overall increase of 13.9% in their homeless population from 2019 to 2022.
During the Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this week, Nolan Sullivan, director of the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency, provided supervisors with an update on the county’s plan to address homelessness.
First conducted in 2005, the Point in Time (PIT) Count is an unduplicated count of persons experiencing homelessness on a single night within the last 10 days of January. The most recent count was delayed from January 2021 until February 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data collected from the count showed that Yolo County had a total of 746 individuals experiencing homelessness, with the highest numbers coming from West Sacramento and Woodland at 284 and 267 individuals, respectively.
The count is also broken down into unsheltered versus sheltered. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an unsheltered homeless person resides in a place not meant for human habitation such as a car or park while a sheltered homeless person resides in an emergency shelter. Despite the overall increase in the homeless population, the county did see a 4.8% decrease in the unsheltered count, according to Anisa Vallejo, HHSA’s adult services grant manager.
“When comparing this to our neighbors across the river, Sacramento County saw a 67% increase in total count and a 72% increase in their unsheltered count,” Vallejo said. “I think this really highlights that the priorities and funding decisions that Yolo County is making are really working within this county.”
Sullivan also shared the successful data collected from one of the key projects operating under the County’s Commission to Address Homelessness. The Commission, which works to support county policy and funding recommendations to address homelessness and housing issues, is composed of elected officials from Woodland, West Sacramento, Davis, Winters and the chair of Yolo County’s Homeless Continuum of Care, with Supervisor Gary Sandy serving as the chair of the commission.
Project Roomkey was launched in March 2020. The state program aimed to decrease the spread of COVID-19 among those experiencing homelessness.
“We have one of the longest Project Roomkey/Project Homekey projects in the state of California,” Sullivan said. “It’s where Gov. Gavin Newsom actually announced the program from the project in West Sacramento. That’s something we are very proud of.
“We are still housing 31 medically fragile, vulnerable individuals at this property as we speak today,” he continued. “We have plans to work with the city of West Sac to transition that project to a permanent supportive housing project hopefully in the next couple months.”
The city of West Sacramento was awarded grants by the state to develop Project Homekey — an expansion of Project Roomkey that helped local entities develop interim or permanent housing for its homeless population.
As of Feb. 21, 2023, a total of 1087 individuals were assisted with over 103,205 nights of shelter provided through the program. While the project was initially designed to temporarily shelter individuals and avoid COVID-19 transmission, 97 individuals were connected to permanent housing during Project Roomkey while 49 were permanently housed during Project Homekey.
“This program was operated in West Sacramento, in Woodland, in Davis and through the COVID pandemic we proved that if we all get together and we put our money where our mouth is, we really can make a difference,” Sullivan emphasized.
Sullivan noted that the commission’s continued mission is to achieve “functional zero” in homelessness.
“Our technical definition for functional zero in Yolo County is having enough public supportive housing units or publicly funded units to match the PIT Count,” Sullivan explained. “So essentially if the PIT Count is 750 we should have 750 units across the county where folks can be housed at any given time in addition to our temporary and emergency shelters.”
Currently, the county has 457 units of public supportive housing units across the county. However, Sullivan said they have “85 units coming online at West Capitol and 60 units at East Beamer Way.”
Sullivan also shared the upcoming projects happening around the county including Paul’s Place in Davis, phase two of West Sac Gateway Place in West Sacramento, talks of a motel purchase through ARP that could bring 30 or 40 additional units and a family interim housing program in Woodland.
Sullivan explained that staff are trying to figure out how to continue to acquire more funding and apply for grants as they maneuver what the world looks like post-COVID.
“We have a lot of irons in the fire and we are going to get people housed. We are committed to doing it,” Sullivan concluded.