There have been a lot of misconceptions lately about Sacramento County’s response to homelessness, lack of collaboration and hidden money stockpiled away for projects decades away.
It’s time to set the record straight.
On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors committed $44 million in Mental Health Services Act funds over three years to expand services for people throughout the county with serious mental illnesses who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. In addition, we will sustain this commitment with $4 million in ongoing improvements to services for those suffering with severe mental health issues.
Let us be clear: There are not and never were MHSA funds reserved for long-term obligations or projects decades down the road. County staff reported Tuesday a review of historical spending that demonstrates the county has consistently spent these funds within three years or five years, as required by law.
Also, collaboration with all seven cities within Sacramento County has been, and will continue to be, key in addressing homelessness. The county has partnered with the city of Sacramento, as well as Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt, Isleton and Rancho Cordova to address the needs of the homeless. Collaboration will continue as the county and the cities work together in the Continuum of Care Advisory Board, a rapid re-housing team funded by a state emergency grant and the No Place Like Home Committee.
What also seems to be lost in the conversation are increased investments in programs and services the county made earlier this year. Just weeks ago, supervisors approved an additional $7.4 million a year for four vital initiatives on homelessness, on top of more than $40 million the county already spends on homeless programs and services.
Two of the four initiatives are up and running, and two are in progress.
The county has redesigned an easy-to-use registration and placement system for homeless families. After one month in operation, 11 families have been placed in emergency shelters using the new system.
We’ve preserved Mather Community Campus, which provides transitional housing, employment services and recovery support for homeless individuals and families. Last year, the campus served more than 855 people, including former foster youth and veterans.
Currently, the county is looking for sites for Full Service Re-Housing Sheltering, which will eventually serve 75 people at a time and as many as 300 people a year.
And later this month, the county will be releasing a request for qualifications for intensive case managers and property providers to provide re-housing and stabilization services for as many as 250 individuals and family members who are experiencing long-term homelessness.
As demand has increased, thoughtful and careful consideration has been put into expanding outreach and services. The county is committed to working with our partners to provide compassionate and sustainable help to those in need – now more than ever.
In the spirit of cooperation and with a solid commitment towards making a real difference in lives of the less fortunate, there is much to be done, and it is now time we all get to work.
Nav Gill is Sacramento County executive and can be contacted at GillN@saccounty.net.
Don Nottoli is chairman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.