Sacramento County approves safe parking program for homeless people in North Heights

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved A Safe parking program in the Northern Highlands, where she expects people experiencing homelessness will be able to access case management and essential services.

Once it opens, county staff said up to 30 people will be able to park at the location on Watt Street. Guests will also have access to showers, toilets and at least two meals a day.

The county plans to start the program early next year while it continues to design a larger “safe residence community” on the property, said Emily Halcon, director of the Department of Homeless Housing and Services. Outreach workers plan to focus on inviting people who live in nearby cars — including on Roseville Street and in the McClellan Business Park — to participate in the program.

“We envision providing a safe parking program to allow them to transition from living in a car to a shelter or housing,” Halcon said. “We realize this is a short-term solution and is not intended to be a place where people permanently shelter in their cars.”

The board approved the purchase of the property at 4837 Watt Ave. With the goal of building a Safe Stay Community for about a year. The county said it is designing such communities near existing encampments and intentionally providing non-congregate shelter at the sites.

In October 2022, the council gave the green light to spend about $23 million for the 13-acre site, which includes a warehouse and vacant land. The county paid for its costs with funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Initial concept It includes 140 sleeping cabins inside the warehouse and 50 secure outdoor parking spaces.

Sacramento County plans to open a Safe Stay Community for people experiencing homelessness at this Watt Avenue property in North Highlands. Photo taken on November 9, 2022.Courtesy of Sacramento County

Natasha Drane, deputy director of the Department of General Services, said Tuesday that the county plans to provide the board with an update on the full site design in January. Drane added that the county aims to begin construction of the safe parking program in December and be finished by the end of January. Planned work includes adding privacy screening tarps to fencing and improving existing bathrooms at the warehouse.

Supervisor Rich Desmond, who represents the district where the Watt Avenue site is located, praised the start of the parking program.

“As the long-term permanent use for this emerges, and other ideas emerge, I think we should be open to other potential temporary uses as well,” Desmond said. “Because it will take some time for this system to be established and scaled up to the level of the full secure accommodation community that we have in mind.”

Supervisors approved the company City Net, which also runs it Safe residence community in South SacramentoTo run the parking program. The contract begins in December and ends in June 2026. The county is paying City Net about $3.5 million through the state’s Encampment Resolution Funding grant.

On site, City Net will provide case management to help participants obtain housing and refer them to services such as mental health care and public benefits. The program can also help participants repair or dispose of their cars once they have permanent housing, Halcon said. Halcon said the county does not plan to require people to provide proof of car insurance or registration, because that could prevent them from entering the program.

The Watt Avenue location will be the first parking program run by Sacramento County for people experiencing homelessness, Halcon said. The Safe Stay Community in South Sacramento does not include an area for people to live in their cars.

The location at Florin and Power Inn roads opened in August After months of delay. It has 100 small houses for temporary shelter.

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