Photo Credits: MARIO RODRIGUEZ / AGGIE
City council is working jointly with Yolo County Board of Supervisors to fund six months of operation
The Davis City Council voted to move forward with plans for constructing a daytime respite center on Fifth Street during a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. The respite center would be open during the day to provide shower and restroom services, storage facilities and connection to social services.
After receiving a status update from city staff and hearing a number of public comments, the Davis City Council approved initial implementation steps and allocated up to $300,000 for building and operation costs through June 30, 2020. The council also approved agreements with the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency and CommuniCare Health Centers to provide staffing for the respite center.
Many of those who spoke during public comments supported building the daytime respite center at the corporate yard on Fifth Street, including volunteers from the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter and residents of the nearby Davis Manor neighborhood.
Yet several Davis residents expressed concerns about the location of the pilot project, bringing up issues ranging from the safety of children in the neighborhood to decreasing property values.
Before the Fifth Street corporate yard was selected, the Davis City Council had been considering five potential sites for building the respite center. Councilmembers originally favored the city-owned land under the Dave Pelz bicycle overpass on Second Street for the proposed location but ended up switching the project to the Fifth Street location in early November.
During the City Council meeting on Dec. 17, councilmember Will Arnold stressed that this switch occurred because of the advantages to the Fifth Street location and not due to complaints made by citizens.
“The Dave Pell’s Overcrossing — if it had the infrastructure and location assets that this location had — that’s where we would be doing it, in my opinion,” Arnold said. “It’s not about one neighborhood versus another, it is about existing infrastructure and location — proximity to services, proximity to transport.”
Gloria Partida, the mayor pro tempore, emphasized the urgency of the situation and discussed how building a respite center could mitigate some of the concerns expressed by neighbors.
“We got to the point where now it’s rainy, now it’s cold and we really want to help these people get out of this situation and this is the place where we can do that the fastest,” Partida said. “The number one complaint we have from people is human waste, and we are hoping that a lot of issues that people struggle with from our homeless population will be mitigated by this site being opened.”
Earlier in the day, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors approved additional funding to help with start-up costs and hiring two full-time employees for the respite center. Supervisor Don Saylor spoke during the Davis City Council meeting to reiterate the support for the pilot center from the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
“I want to thank this council for your hard work and your dedication to addressing this issue,” Saylor said. “It’s clearly a community priority to address the issue wisely, with compassion, and we are at the point in our history where we have some capacity and resources to direct to this cause.”
The Davis City Council is also working with the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in purchasing a duplex on H Street to provide permanent services for the homeless population. The building is intended to be used as an interim shelter during the construction of Paul’s Place, a new project that would replace the Davis Community Meals and Housing homeless shelter located right next to the duplex.
As many changes are being made in an effort to support the homeless population of Davis, Councilmember Lucas Frerichs encouraged increased community outreach, especially in the Davis Manor neighborhood.
“There’s going to be, of course, a real need for neighborhood community engagement,” Frerichs said. “I’ve been in the neighborhood a lot, both before the community meeting, during the community meeting and since the community meeting — talking with neighbors about this particular issue — both those in support and opposition.”
Councilmember Dan Carson enumerated the reasons for building the interim shelter, including the oncoming winter weather.
“This has not been a perfect process, but we’re eight days from wind, cold and rain and more of that is coming,” Carson said. “I feel morally bound to support an action that seems well planned out that will help keep folks alive, but there are strong analytical and good policy reasons for doing this.”
Written by: Madeleine Payne – firstname.lastname@example.org