Homeless assistance providers in Yolo County will have to cut programs and services this year due to lack of ML funding.
Yolo‘s homeless providers have depended on grants from the Federal Emergency Shelter Grant program for a number of years, but the FESG will not be providing any funds to organizations in the county this year.
“For Wayfarer that‘s a $100,000 loss for two of our programs,“ said Leona Jull, executive director of the Yolo Wayfarer Center in Woodland. The center‘s budget is dropping to $1.1 million because of the cuts.
The Wayfarer Center had to lay off a case manager, while its emergency shelter program decreased the number of available beds for the homeless.
“It means 20 people that would normally be in our shelter will be out in the cold,“ Jull said.
This brings the number of beds in the shelter to 50, she said.
The Wayfarer Center‘s transitional housing program, which provides temporary housing to low-income families, had to end the lease on a house that provided housing to four families, meaning longer waiting lists for families in need, Jull said. This brought the number of transitional housing units managed by the center to 12.
Yolo County, another source of funding to local homeless providers, has also been feeling the effects of the economic downturn.
“We recognize that we‘re going to have a smaller budget,“ said Wes Ervin, Yolo County economic development manager. “Social services and job services will be increasing. We‘ll have to do more with less.“
The county is addressing the problems of homelessness, the economy and county funding by making efforts to increase jobs.
Yolo is setting aside land for future growth and concentrating on revitalizing downtowns, Ervin said.
“Most importantly, working more closely with our businesses, particularly small businesses,“ he said.
According to an estimate in the 2007 Homeless Census Data Report, there are between 1,119 and 2,238 homeless in Yolo County, and that number is increasing, said Janice Critchlow, Yolo County homeless coordinator.
“Everybody for about the last six months has said there has been an increase in clients,“ Critchlow said. “Most of those have never been homeless before.“
The increase in demand for services has homeless assistance providers struggling to keep up.
“We have the greatest need we‘ve had in several years,“ Critchlow said. “It‘s a really nasty combination of more need and less resources.“
In order to appeal to state and federal agencies that distribute funds to private and public homeless service providers, the county and cities have begun efforts to draft a 10-year plan, part of a nationwide effort to end chronic homelessness.
“We have some money to do some planning,“ Critchlow said.
According to a press release from the city of West Sacramento, the California Department of Housing and Community Development awarded $60,000 to West Sacramento, Winters and Yolo County to facilitate discussion among community leaders and organizations on issues facing the homeless and develop the 10-Year Plan.
The plan aims to address the root problems of chronic homelessness, Critchlow said.
“These plans are showing a reduction in homelessness,“ she said.
According to a presentation by Philip Mangano, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, plans similar to the one being developed in Yolo County have reduced chronic homelessness by 38 percent in San Francisco and 70 percent in Portland, Ore., while decreasing the amount of money necessary for homeless services.
More information on the Wayfarer Center can be found online at ywcmission.org.
JON GJERDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.