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Davis, California

Sunday, July 14, 2024

City of Davis approves new winter shelter plan, partnership with Downtown Streets Team

Downtown Streets Team to work with City of Davis to set up winter shelter, offer pay and support for unhoused community

By LA RISSA VASQUEZ — city@theaggie.org


On Oct. 18, at their weekly meeting, Davis City Council passed two proposals aimed to better support people experiencing homelessness in Davis: creating a 2022-2023 Emergency Winter Shelter and piloting a Downtown Streets Team (DST) program. The Council unanimously voted for both.

According to Chris Richardson, the Chief Program Officer of the Downtown Streets Team, the program will employ a 15-member team of unhoused people in the Davis community to clean areas around the city. In exchange, each team member will receive a stipend for basic needs and a case management representative to help them establish more permanent housing and employment.  

“When we launch, we want to be a vital part of the community’s fight against homelessness and to build partnerships with other service providers that are long lasting,” Richardson said. “A big part of the goal is to provide a low barrier entry point for unhoused individuals to meet their basic needs to go from survival mode to goal setting mode.”

Case managers work extensively — 20 hours or more a week on average — according to Richardson. Each team member develops employment and interpersonal skills, receives assistance with building their resumes, preparing for interviews, increasing financial literacy, and applying to federal and state resources, according to the DST website.

“We provide a low barrier way for folks to start addressing their basic needs and engage with community resources, including affordable housing to put them on a path to long term self-sufficiency and housing,” Richardson said.

Although the DST program cannot provide physical shelter, the city of Davis will be contracting with the Davis Community Meals and Housing (DCMH) organization to operate an emergency winter shelter from November to the end of March 2023 for up to 10 individuals on a first come, first served basis.

The shelter will be located in a city-owned house near the Davis Fire Department headquarters in Downtown Davis. Bill Pride, the executive director of DCMH, discussed some of the challenges that the shelter could face in the coming year.

“Getting the right staff and volunteers has been the biggest challenge for us the past few years due to [COVID-19] and other issues,” Pride said. “Our shelter will be collaborating with HEART Davis, the city of Davis and others to support the shelter with food for residents, services and necessary supplies.”

The DCMH can only house 10 residents, but according to the 2022 Yolo County Homelessness Count survey, there are approximately 181 people experiencing homelessness in Davis, about 114 of them are living unsheltered. 

 “Specific to California, we have some of the highest wealth disparity in the country, if not the world, and that is reflected in our housing,” Richardson said. “We have a critical lack of affordable housing throughout the state of California which manifests itself in homelessness.”

Written by: La Rissa Vasquez — city@theaggie.org