Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Latest on July 1 and the shelter beds thing

Beds and rumours of beds.

From what I understand, both the A Street shelter and the Bannon Street shelter that are currently being administered by Volunteers of America are going to be funded beyond June 30. At least one of the facilities, according to what I've heard unofficially, will be operated by Salvation Army beginning on July 1.

Winter shelter, which is also currently being administered by Volunteers of America is not set to continue beyond June 30. This is not surprising; the shelter has always been seasonal, and as it is it will be in operation nine days into summer. Never before, so far as I can tell from a search of Sacramento Bee articles in years past, has the facility ever been in operation past March 31 ... until this year.

A problem remaining is what additional shelter will there be in the winter of 2009-2010. Winter shelter is not only not getting its current operation extended, it's not yet funded for next winter.

As many know, Winter shelter [also known as Overflow] is badly operated and devours homeless people's time, eating up more than 16 hours of each sheltered person's day. Truly, it is an extra-legal prison. A leaner, sleeker shelter operation for next winter would be better, for both the cash-strapped county and homeless people, themselves, who need a chance to get something done in their day ... such as WORK, or get some meager pleasure from being alive.

At both Loaves & Fishes' Friendship Park and at Francis House, small flyers advertise a Safe Ground rally for July 1, which apparently replaces the "Help Keep Shelters Open" Day of Shame that L&F's had been promoting on that date. This is a clear indicator that the shelter bed issue has been somewhat solved by the county, for now, unofficially -- and all the homeless-help "players" are quietly aware of it.

With beds to be available in summer 2009 in roughly the same quantity they were available in summer 2008 [~650 beds] the period of Hysterical Whining [by the "usual suspects" in the Sacramento homeless-help industry, worried about their jobs] is abated for a while. The issue now, again, becomes one of keeping the police from rousting people who must sleep in bags or tents outdoors – or simply choose the freedom of sleeping outdoors.

Update 6/18/09: From a County of Sacramento memo, from Department of Human Assistance Director Bruce Wagstaff to the Board of Supervisors re "Report Back On The Number Of Homeless Individuals/Families Served by Federal Stimulus Funding":
Since the start up for this new program is October 1, 2009 the number of units of assistance for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 is estimated to be between 250-300. While a portion of these resources can and will be used for the homeless who no longer have access to shelter services, the resources will also be used to prevent individuals/families from becoming homeless and/or rapid rehouse those that have recently become homeless, thereby diverting the recent homeless away from shelters.

In addition DHA plans to fund family shelter beds with Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Funds (ECF). The new shelter beds that will be available through this funding are 74, (62 at the Bannon Street site from October to June and the continuation of 12 additional year-round beds at St. John’s). In addition, the Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center (SAEHC) indicated on June 11, 2009 the possibility of adding additional capacity at their shelter for an additional six families.
What does this mean? Lots of funding for shelter beds. Though it will be mostly targetted to the newly homeless, these newly homeless will thus NOT be in there scrapping for beds at the long-established shelters, thus keeping a reasonable supply of beds for the long-time homeless.

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