Triage Center Good Idea for Homelessness

Our concern about homelessness in Sacramento is the long term tendency of the homeless to illegally camp in the American River Parkway, thereby degrading it with fires, pollution, threats to public safety, all in addition to the great disservice to the homeless being compelled to live outdoors and on the run.

With that concern, we keep track of local action around the issue and this latest spurt, as noted in the Sacramento Bee, concerns a new initiative the city of Sacramento is considering, and the 24 hour triage center idea does seem the best option.

An excerpt.

As homeless rights activists prepare to drive stakes into the ground for a tent city on a downtown Sacramento lot, members of the City Council expressed skepticism for that model of homeless shelter during a special City Hall hearing Tuesday.

Instead, council members were more receptive to a 24-hour triage center that has on-site services and is directly linked to Sacramento Steps Forward, the county’s primary homeless services coordinator. A triage center could be housed inside a large building or take the form of an outdoor encampment.

Some council members also expressed support for a sanctioned village of tiny cabins, a proposal being pushed in Sacramento by First Step Communities, a local homeless advocacy group that has focused on transitional housing structures rather than tents. That model would also include direct pipelines for residents into housing and social services, and has been used in Portland, Ore., and Olympia, Wash.

While the camp models are the most controversial of the many homelessness options under consideration, Sacramento council members reiterated their desire to increase the permanent housing stock as the foundation of the city’s response to one of its most pressing challenges.

“Our focus truly is on long-term solutions, getting people connected with the services they require and finding housing for them,” said Councilman Jeff Harris, a member of a council subcommittee formed earlier this year by Mayor Kevin Johnson to explore options for addressing homelessness….

Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, a candidate for mayor, called images of tent cities she’s seen “disturbing.” Instead, she was more receptive to the triage center and “tiny home” village models as long as those facilities include on-site services.

Councilman Jay Schenirer, who chaired the council subcommittee on homelessness, said he was in favor of creating a triage center “as soon as we can.”

“I know it’s an expensive item,” he said. “It’s a really important tool that we can use that meets the needs of the community and gets people off the street. Whether it’s connected with tiny homes or a tent city, to me that’s an open question. But everything we do needs to be part of the larger continuum of care and moving people toward permanent housing.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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