SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento city leaders voted to accept a $64 million state grant on Tuesday to help end homelessness. Sacramento is the only city in California to get these funds.
“I think it’s really important that the public understands exactly what this is,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Steinberg applied for the money earlier this year as a part of his commitment to get an estimated 2,000 people off the streets. He announced on Tuesday that the city has been accepted into the Whole Person Care (WPC) Program.
“If you feel like this is a great day in Sacramento, let me hear it,” said Vice Mayor Rick Jennings, after the announcement. “And I want everybody in Sacramento to hear it!”
The cheers marked the excitement of city council members celebrating $64 million coming to the city of Sacramento.
“Our systems here in Sacramento are putting together the $64 million to help people who most frequently access emergency room services and similar services,” Steinberg said.
Many of those people are from Sacramento’s homeless population. Steinberg says this money will support more than 3,200 hundred people over the next three years in a broad approach to addressing heath issues.
So, how will the city use the money? First, they’ll combine data from local hospitals to identify frequent ER visitors. They’ll hire more clinically trained outreach workers, expand current on-the-ground outreach efforts, and develop a more comprehensive case management system.
Steinberg says it’ll reduce homeless visits to the ER and reduce pressure on often overcrowded local hospitals.
“We’re going to have people at the emergency rooms, we’re going to have people at the shelters, we’re going to have mobile crisis teams,” he said.
After 4 years of living on the street, Tammy Flores says she sees enough outreach workers around. She says efforts should focus on finding people a place to live.
“He’s wasting his money,” Flores said. “Get them into housing and then start getting them to the doctors.”
But Steinberg says housing alone is not enough.
The money will start coming in this July. The city will collect $32 million from 13 local hospitals and health care centers, then send the money to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). In return, the city will receive twice as much money back from the state: $64 million in total.
The services will start in January 2018. Next up, the city plans to hire a consulting firm to figure out how to hire the additional outreach workers they need.