Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Support for the homeless by the county falls off a cliff

Hearings for the creation of a budget for the County of Sacramento for its fiscal year from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 will begin in about six weeks. The coming year will be far worse than the current annus horribilis [7/1/09 to 6/30/10] because of the continuing effects of the Great Recession in California [a laggard state in feeling the effects of the Recovery, already in progress most elsewhere in the nation] and the inability of state government to find solutions to their problems. A tax increase of some sort in California would have helped, but it hasn't happened and won't happen because of Republican recalcitrance.

A document, squirrelled away at the county website, dated April 14, and prepared as a starting position for discussion of the coming year budget tells us the County of Sacramento will likely abandon their obligations and hand over the door keys to homeless survival services to the Usual Suspects at the homeless-help agencies. There's no assurance that the homeless-help agencies can take on the burden or would want the obligation to assume the burden the County is poised to abandon.

Already, operations at Mather have been turned over to Volunteers of America to run as they please. VOA has much notoriety in Homeless World Sacramento for their administration of Overflow at Cal Expo, which operated as the metropolis winter shelter in winters ending in 2008-2009. The operation was a clear example of "warehousing the rabble," as John Irving has identified the practice of herding and hiding the homeless to keep them out of the sight of elite society.

The April 14, 2010, document, "sac_022453.pdf," misfiled (?) as a pdf Probation Dept document, reads thus in regard to Homeless Programs:
Department reductions include reductions to homeless programs. Staff is working with homeless partners to find alternative funding and support to mitigate the loss of county General Fund support. Unless another entity assumes the county's role in this program there will be no capacity to prepare the required Continuum of Care grant application, coordinate homeless services, monitor program outcomes, administer the homeless programs as required by HUD, and prepare for the required 2011 Homeless Count. HUD requirements dictate that HUD funding will cease as soon as administration, monitoring and reporting of HUD sponsored grants stops.

Transitional Housing - The County will risk losing most, if not all, of the 837 transitional housing beds (377 family beds) that DHA currently administers. This represents a loss of 83% of the total (1005) community transitional housing beds, leaving 168 beds remaining.

Permanent Supportive Housing - The County will risk losing most, if not all, of the 1655 permanent supportive housing beds (937 family beds) that DHA currently administers. this represents a loss of 91% of the total (1815 community permanent supportive housing beds, leaving 160 beds remaining.

Emergency Shelter Beds - In addition to the risk of losing transitional housing and permanent supportive housing beds, the County will be unable to administer and operate emergency shelter services, which include 432 year-round beds (188 family beds) and 149 winter shelter beds (117 family beds). this represents a loss of 69% of the total (624) community emergency shelter beds, leaving 192 year-round beds remaining.

Without availability of emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing beds, Sacramento Communities will experience more individuals and families on the streets with a resulting concern for safety and increased calls to emergency responders.
My Friends,

The sky is falling. This is the Hindenburg explosion while the moon splashes into the Pacific.

Despite my many misgivings, approval of a SafeGround community of Tuff Sheds should happen lickity-split with construction begun the next day. And another parcel of land should be set aside for homeless people to put up tents in a legal encampment. The Union Gospel Mission should be allowed to shelter more people if they choose to. Friendship Park should be used nights as a place for homeless folk to sleep.

Johnny, unbolt the door. All the obstacles to homeless people helping themselves should be pulled aside.

Kind Citizens of Metropolitan Sacramento: There is misery enough, already - now - out on the streets. There is sure to be much more. Mitigate. Mitigate. Mitigate.

UPDATE 4/21/10 4:30:  Within an hour of me putting up this blogpost, the County "refiled" or retitled the document from their website.  Still, it can be accessed here:  http://www.budget.saccounty.net/coswcms/groups/public/@wcm/@pub/@obdm/@shared/documents/webcontent/sac_022453.pdf

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