Winter Shelter for our Unhoused Residents
October 01, 2022
Why non-congregate (e.g. hotel/motel-based) shelter is the best solution
(From press release)
Background: The City of Davis, in coordination with several stakeholder organizations, is planning for winter shelter for our homeless Davis and Yolo County neighbors. The current proposal being advanced by the City’s Social Service and Housing Department is to use the city-owned house at 512 5th Street as congregate shelter for up to 10 people, with Davis Community Meals and Housing (DCMH) providing staffing, case management and administration of the program.
HEART of Davis (formerly Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter) is enthusiastically supportive of and interested in contributing to sheltering those who need it during the cold winter months. We stand ready to provide volunteers to provide food and other resources to those in need. However, we firmly believe that the 5th Street house is the wrong venue for this purpose at this time, for the following reasons:
The 5th St facility is far too small to address the need. Historically, there have been at least 20-25 people needing cold weather shelter on a nightly basis in Davis. Sacramento homeless camp sweeps will likely increase the need.
As a congregate shelter it may well be a source of COVID-19 outbreaks, during which time it will have to be closed, as has been the case with the 4th and Hope Shelter in Woodland.
- During the closures, the only alternative will be using motel or hotel rooms for non- congregate shelter, or to provide nothing at all.
- The California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) shelter guidance (dated May 6, 2022) advises: “ When possible, the use of alternative housing sites or non-congregate settings should be considered in lieu of congregate shelters.” (See the attached rationale, written by Dr. Sheri Belafsky, UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, in consultation with the Yolo County Public Health Officer).
- Some hotel rooms will be needed anyway for the vulnerable population. Those who are at highest risk for COVID will need to be sheltered in separate motel/hotel rooms to minimize health risks.
- The City will then be implementing a second track of non-congregate shelter, which will require separate management. The City could reduce management costs and staff time by running just one non-congregate shelter program.
- It will be very difficult to for our volunteers to provide food at two locations
Projected Costs: The room costs of such a program, assuming ~20 people per night for 4 months (120 days) would be 20 rooms x $100/night x 120 nights= $240,000. Demand each night will depend on the weather and other factors, such as screening criteria. HEART of Davis has offered a matching contribution $25K, which has thus far not been accepted by the city. Additional fundraising to pay for rooms, supplies, and other resources will be needed, and possible sources would be other organizations in Davis who support the homeless, the local business community, and, of course, the city.
What you need to know: Dana Bailey, Director of Davis’ Department of Social Services and Housing, is hosting a meeting with multiple interested organizations on Thursday, October 6, to present her current plan. The City Council will discuss this item at its October 18 meeting.
What you can do: Please spread the word to your networks and constituencies that the City Council needs to direct staff to pursue shelter options that can accommodate 20 or more people, such as a motel- based shelter. Please contact City Council members directly using the contact information below. Tell them:
Winter shelter for our homeless neighbors is desperately needed in Davis.
The proposal to use the city house for congregate shelter is both inadequate to address the need, and unsafe, from a public health point of view.
Motel/Hotel-based shelter, like that provided last year, is probably our best option at this time, since we know how to run such a program and it needs to be up and running in a month.
The City needs to, and can, find resources to run such a program. All that is needed is the political will.
The Council should direct staff to focus on non-congregate shelter options that can house 20+ people/night.
Please contact the City Council, and plan to attend the October 18 City Council meeting. Spread the word!
City Council District 3
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Elected "At large"
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Attachment. Analysis from Dr. Sheri Belafsky
Rationale for non-congregate shelter whenever feasible this winter:
While case rates and hospitalizations have been trending down over the past month, significant virus circulation remains throughout California—including Sacramento and Yolo counties. Per CDC data, Yolo County currently has a “low community level”, however, “community transmission”, which reflects the presence and spread of COVID-19, is still “substantial”. (https://www.yolocounty.org/government/general-government-departments/health-human- services/adults/communicable-disease-investigation-and-control/covid-19)
Currently, the behavior of the COVID-19 virus is unpredictable, and the development of new variants this winter is possible.
Congregate emergency winter shelter constitutes a high-risk transmission setting for a population disproportionately at high risk for COVID-19 complications.
- CDPH’s shelter guidance (dated May 6, 2022) advises: “When possible, the use of alternative housing sites or non-congregate settings should be considered in lieu of congregate shelters.” (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/infection-control-guidance- clients-congregate-shelter-including-homelessness.aspx). CDPH also advises that “Non- congregate housing should also be prioritized for:... those who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19 infection or medical complications should they become infected, such as people over 65 or those who have underlying health conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 infection.”
CDC recommendations for “medium” community levels include:
- Testing in high-risk settings (these include settings that are enclosed with poor ventilation, and where there is close contact between residents
- Masking with a high-quality mask if at high risk of complications from COVID-19 infection
- In the event of COVID-19 outbreaks, other shelters with congregate housing have been forced to close intermittently with subsequent urgent re-housing of their guests in motel rooms to isolate.
I guess we have to think of all the charity worker jobs. People who go around giving away charity for free that is costing us Billions of dollars and of course we have to think about the politicians 🙃 how are the politicians supposed to get elected without promising to house and feed homeless people?
If we had a society where no one has to be homeless would we make willful homelessness illegal?
If we truly want to fix this problem we have to stop feeding them and housing them and after they get cold and hungry they'll figure out a way to go to work.
Posted by: Chris Griffith | October 01, 2022 at 01:39 PM
Dr. Sheri Belafsky was the Medical Director of Healthy Davis Together. She's also worked with HEART of Davis and the preceding organization (IRWS) on serving unhoused people. In my opinion, she knows the medicine and she knows the issues, so her recommendation carries a lot of weight with me.
Posted by: Doug Walter | October 01, 2022 at 01:52 PM
It is not clear to me who wrote this article. It is posted by one person, it first lists Lucas F. after the article but that is a list council members, and then there is an attachment by a doctor. But the author isn't clear.
Chris G. I share your sentiment, but not so cold heartedly as your comment comes across. The enabling of meth addicts so that they may continue to destroy themselves must not be part of charity -- unfortunately most do not understand the dynamics of societal enabling. But I do support a helping hand for those with economic hardships who are trying to help themselves. "You cannot help those who do not want it" from the wisdom of the elders on s2e9 of Reservation Dogs (great show). For individuals it is emotional energy - for society it is money - spent by 'do gooders' who do not understand. And yet, I do support a winter shelter. How we separate those who want to help themselves and need a hand out from those who just suck up other's money and charity to enable their addictions is the very difficult quandary that hopefully society is able to unlock and agree upon so that charity may flow where it does the most good. Anyone here have the key? I'm sure there are great minds that have figured it out and it is 'out there' but I've never been referred to a semi-working answer.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | October 02, 2022 at 12:12 PM
Alan, I understood it to be a press release from HEART of Davis (formerly Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter).
I think they make a very good case for non-congregate winter shelter.
Posted by: Roberta L. Millstein | October 02, 2022 at 12:53 PM
I meant to come across kind of harsh but not really harsh ...
If they want a helping hand we should require them to work at least a little bit
Simply just giving out free food a place to stay simply encourages people come to Davis or woodland for all the freebies they can get.
I for one would like the success rate (that is if they have a success rate) how many are gainfully employed?
I think the cities and counties and of course the state of California should be giving the voters that kind of data
Posted by: Chris Griffith | October 02, 2022 at 04:09 PM
I don't want to sound harsh or cold BUT If motel rooms are going to be rented to house to homeless I think the names of the motels should be publicized I'm sure it would be a great PR move.
Posted by: Chris Griffith | October 02, 2022 at 07:46 PM
. . . a great PR move for where NOT to have your relatives stay when they come to town?
Mainly I am totally against 'housing first' strategies. Having active addicts in a safe space makes it an unsafe space for all. Not using should be the minimal requirement. I have spoken both to a former worker at the H Street facility and a recovering addict who used to live there, and both said the policy to allow active addicts to use such facilities is bad for them and worse for others (recovering addicts, others seeking help, volunteers, employees)
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | October 03, 2022 at 10:50 AM
Here in the US we want a person in need to first pull themselves up "by the boot straps" or demonstrate that their living condition is a new circumstance, otherwise they are hard-working, upstanding, boot-strap pulling etc. etc. Prove you deserve help, then you'll get it. --- If that approach worked, Great!...but as we all know, except in rare circumstances: the person isn't an addict and/or doesn't have a mental illness.
Finland is into Housing First---and it's working. But it would co$t and our attitude would have to change, with an increase in patience & generosity ... If we help house those without safe homes, ultimately we all benefit. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/sunday/the-sunday-edition-for-january-26-2020-1.5429251/housing-is-a-human-right-how-finland-is-eradicating-homelessness-1.5437402
Thanks for reading.
Posted by: Kunzang Roesler | October 07, 2022 at 11:09 AM