Cabins for youth aged 18-24 part of proposed plan to reduce homelessness in Sacramento

Cabins for youth aged 18-24 part of proposed plan to reduce homelessness in Sacramento

Photo Credits: MARIO RODRIGUEZ / AGGIE

Five Point Homeless Plan includes safe parking program, motel conversion, sleeping cabins, tents

The Housing Authority of the City of Sacramento showcased a Five Point Homeless Plan on Oct. 22, 2019, as requested by the City Council of Sacramento on Sept. 24, 2019, according to a city council report released on Feb. 18, 2020. The Five Point Homeless Plan involved five different options designed to reduce homelessness in Sacramento: a safe parking program, scattered sites, motel conversion, permanent supportive housing and sleeping cabins or tents.

The sleeping cabins or tents will be implemented through the proposed Emergency Bridge Housing at Grove Program, which is intended to “provide emergency housing for unsheltered transitional age youth between the ages of 18-24 who may be referred through U.S. Department of Education’s Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth (P3) Program.”

Tyrone Roderick Williams, the deputy executive director of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), provided details about how the project was initiated. 

“This project came about as a result of responding to Governor Gavin Newsom’s 100-day challenge to make mayors across to come up with innovative solutions to deal with homeless [clashes],” Williams said.

There have been projects in the past that share the purpose of reducing homelessness in Sacramento, but the Emergency Bridge Housing at Grove Program is the first of its kind, according to Williams. 

As a result of the 100-day challenge, SHRA contacted a property owner in Sacramento who already had experience working with and helping individuals in the community. 

“The church, for over 30 years, has been reaching out to troubled youths and providing assistance for getting their lives back on track,” Williams said. “So, we thought, ‘Well, maybe if we reached out to Pastor Larry Joyner’ — who’s the Pastor of the St. Paul Church of God in Christ for Sacramento — ‘maybe we could come up with a project that we actually could launch within the 100 days.’”

After reaching out, Williams said Joyner was “very receptive.”

“He has […] vacant land adjacent to the church and even some space within the church that could be used for social services and other types of activities,” Williams said.

Stephen Watters, the executive director of First Step Communities, said this project “can make a real dent” on the number of homeless and unsheltered youth. 

The 24 cabins can house 48 people, according to the city council report. For further possible expansion in the future, there is enough land to create another 26 cabins, and, thus, an ability to house 80-100 youths with the goal of “transitioning them to permanent housing within six to 12 months,” according to the Sacramento city council report.

The process of building the cabins was gradual, Williams said. Before the project could be implemented fully, a request was put in to “establish a shelter crisis for the city,” which was done at the beginning of January. 

“We’ve been working night and day, literally — weekends and holidays — to establish what will be a […] community,” Williams said. 

Not only will the project provide housing for transitional aged youth, but it will also provide services for them. 

“The goal eventually is permanent housing,” Williams said. “But being able to offer a lot of different programs, like employment programs, educational programs, some life skills training — maybe some stress reduction type training — linkages to medical services and counseling and so on. I think we can make a real difference in some of the young lives.”

Additionally, through a partnership with a community college, some of the individuals staying in the cabins will be students who might not have stable housing, which is one of the unique parts of the project, according to Williams.

Such projects also can be adapted to different demographics in order to help reduce homelessness, Watters noted.

“It’s different than the idea of putting 100 or 200 people into a big dormitory,” Watters said. “It gives each person a community center and, yet, their own privacy and dignity at night.”

Although the project is not intended to be a permanent solution to reducing homelessness in Sacramento, it will still have a significant impact on the lives of unsheltered youth, according to Williams.

“We’re hopeful that over the next two years — because this is a two-year temporary shelter not envisioned at this time to be permanent — that we will be able to make a difference in the lives of community individuals who are 18-24,” Williams said. 

The Emergency Bridge Housing at Grove project will ultimately provide temporary housing in cabins for transitional aged youth in Sacramento, helping to provide them with stability and reduce homelessness. 

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org