Solutions to Homelessness in Yolo County

The most recent homeless census, conducted in January 2015, identified 498 people experiencing homelessness in Yolo on a single night.

The next census, scheduled for January 2017, will help the county’s Homeless Program to adjust and evaluate its plan in light of a change in population size of homeless individuals in Yolo County.

Tracey Dickinson, the Homeless Program Coordinator with Yolo County Health and Human Services, uses data from the homeless census as well as the newly developed Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), to help Yolo County respond to the changing needs of our homeless population.

Yolo County operates under a Housing First model, meaning that programs intend to minimize barriers preventing homeless individuals from gaining housing. Then, services are provided to individuals once they have somewhere to live. This model is currently considered to be the best practice in solving the issue of homelessness, and projects that adhere to this model are prioritized in receiving funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

The county is addressing homelessness through a number of projects. One of these is New Pathways, a short-term supported housing project in Davis which follows the Housing First philosophy. In partnership with the City of Davis and Yolo County Housing, New Pathways provides beds for 4 chronically homeless adults and connects them to services including case management and behavioral support. This project operates in conjunction with Davis Community Meals to provide one free meal daily to adults living at New Pathways.

Our office has been engaged with a group of Davis residents called Davis Opportunity Village (DOVe) - it takes a village. They are spearheading a proposal to create self-governing, stabilizing micro-housing as a covenanted village. This village, composed of 15-20 sleeping cabins with shared bathroom, kitchen, and meeting facilities, would provide individuals living homeless with safety and community where they could learn life skills for sustainable living.

A recent opportunity for funding to address homelessness has arisen in the form of Sutter Health’s Getting to Zero initiative. This program intends to eliminate homelessness in Yolo, Sacramento, and Placer counties within three years by providing grants for projects that enact creative solutions.

This month, the City of Davis received a $233,000 grant from Sutter Health to fund Davis Pathways in collaboration with Yolo County and with Yolo County Housing. The Davis Pathways program is intended to serve 45 individuals over three years, providing job training, bridge rental assistance, and supportive services.

In the summer of 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded Yolo County with a grant that provides over $2 million to support homeless people who struggle with substance abuse. Yolo County will use this funding in collaboration with Fourth & Hope, a local organization that provides food, clothing, and rehabilitation to homeless individuals. The SAMHSA grant will be used to secure permanent housing as well as wraparound care, including medical and legal services.

For projects that seek to address homelessness in our region, a common challenge is the lack of sufficient affordable housing in Yolo County, and particularly in Davis. As Yolo County moves forward towards finding solutions, we know it will be crucial to provide services that help individuals transition from homelessness, and identify permanent affordable housing for those individuals.