City and county raise possibility of sanctioned campground with full services for homeless individuals
Makeshift campsites set up by individuals experiencing homelessness have lined Covell Boulevard from F Street to the Cannery for many years, according to Davis Deputy Director of Police Services Deanne Machado.
Machado said that the encampment has “ebbed and flowed in terms of size. Prior to COVID-19, it was smaller, so it has definitely grown in size over time.”
According to Yolo County District 4 Supervisor Jim Provenza, the city of Davis and Yolo County plan to open lines of communication and cooperate to help the individuals experiencing homelessness in Davis.
“Everybody wants us to address the problem,” Provenza said. “It’s fairly broad and it relates to housing. We’re very supportive of having additional housing.”
Provenza said the objective of the new collaboration initiative is to eliminate “the rigid lines between the city and county that have existed in the past.”
“Figuring out who does what things, that’s easy,” Provenza said. “The hard part is finding a better place for [the homeless individuals], because it’s dangerous, it’s not good for the neighborhood and it’s not the best situation.”
The county typically provides services, while the city is responsible for police-related affairs, making collaboration necessary on issues regarding homelessness, Yolo Public Information Officer Jenny Tan explained via email.
“Usually, homelessness is a collaboration between county and city since some of the services and responsibilities overlap,” Tan said via email.
The Davis Police Department has not had much difficulty obtaining county assistance in the past, according to Machado.
“I can tell you that [the county and the police department have] always collaborated,” Machado said. “I can tell you that we’ve never had an issue; whenever we’ve needed help from the county, they’ve been very helpful. Perhaps they [are] in a strategy phase right now to find out the best way to deal with that geographic location, because clearly it’s grown in size and clearly we need to try a different approach and pool our resources to make sure we’re addressing the issue properly.”
Provenza emphasized that the city and county are trying to take a more holistic approach than they have taken in the past.
“What we don’t want to do is just drive them out, which was the traditional approach in many areas,” Provenza said. “Just, you know, ‘run them out of town.’ Which doesn’t work, but back then the police would come and roust them, and then they’d come back somewhere else. It was not very nice and also not very effective.”
Provenza mentioned a specific project that the city and county plan to consider.
“The city did raise the possibility of a sanctioned campground that they’re looking into, and [the county] offered to help them on that,” Provenza said. “That’s obviously not a solution to homelessness, but it’s much better to have a place that would have a bathroom and services and is safer for the people there, so that might be part of the solution.”
The sanctioned campground is still in the works, Machado said.
“We are pursuing the grant funds to see if we can make something like that happen,” Machado said. “But it would be contingent on receiving those grant funds at this time, and we do not know if we are the lucky recipients at this time.”
Provenza also mentioned past projects addressing homelessness, which the city and county have collaborated on.
“There’s been cooperation this past year,” Provenza said. “The county paid for about half the cost of the daytime respite center for the homeless. We’re also supporting and contributing to the construction of Paul’s Place, the new transitional housing which is being constructed.”
The county hopes to model its efforts confronting homelessness after the successful Bridge to Housing project in West Sacramento, Provenza explained.
“One of the motels in West Sac became available, and we needed to relocate some homeless people who were living in a lot,” Provenza said. “We took over the whole motel, worked with the people and asked them to move in. The idea there was that they would be there temporarily, then go to transitional housing from there and then permanent housing from there.”
Provenza described that many individuals involved with the Bridge to Housing project were able to find permanent housing.
“A large percentage actually made it through all the steps to permanent housing—it was a really successful program,” Provenza said. “So we’re trying to duplicate that approach—housing people temporarily, then transitioning and getting as many of them as possible back to a regular situation, where they have housing.”
Written by: Rachel Shey — firstname.lastname@example.org