Guest Commentary: Addressing the Issue of Homelessness in Davis

The critical resource that the homeless of Davis is housing. It is a commonly known fact that there is a long term and emergency shelter program operating in the city of Davis, operated by Davis Community Meals. This facility houses up to 16 homeless individuals at once, the focus of this program being long term transitional housing for clients who lack shelter but who would like to get back on their feet.

A major requirement for placement in this and other long-term housing programs in California like Davis Community Meals is the need for clients to be sober and if a client is suffering from a mental illness, the illness must be stable and treated with medication.

We have been lucky in Davis to have in place the Cold Weather Shelter in Davis, which is geared to serving homeless individuals who are also substance and alcohol consumers at the time of shelter.

Davis Community Meals also hosts a family program. The 2005-2006 Homeless Count coordinated by the Yolo County Homeless Coalition identified a homeless population of 148. It is a given fact that while there are other homeless resources present for the different populations of individuals who are homeless in our community, slightly more than half of this homeless population does not have a roof over their head.

The national consensus among homeless specific social service providers and some in our federal government is that, a housing first model where we house our chronically homeless and then provide needed social services is a good strategy and a start in ending chronic homelessness.

With this in mind, I bring up an important issue facing the homeless of Davis which is also an issue in other areas of Yolo County. This issue pertains to the lack of stable year-round housing options for the alcohol and illicit substance consuming and the income-less homeless (including the mentally ill) of Davis, California.

I propose at least a place to start with this crisis with the goal in mind that we are to find long term housing options for every homeless individual that seeks housing. Community members, staff from the city of Davis and members from the Chamber of Commerce should coordinate with other social service agencies and county government in order to host a outreach fair for the homeless. An outreach fair would encompass health service screening and social service assistance in one centralized location. In the city of Davis’s future evaluation of affordable housing projects, there should be an effort to designate some of these units for the homeless who do not have a fixed income.

A condition could be established that homeless individuals being housed must look for work in at least six months from the date of being housed. Members of the homeless suffering from severe mental illness that we get off the street and house in such units could be matched up with social service advocates that could assist such members of the homeless population in applying for social security benefits.

A major impediment in a lack of housing for our homeless suffering from mental illness is that a good majority of these individuals do not know where to start in applying for social security benefits. Without income, our mentally ill can not be housed in a long term fashion.

An option to subsidizing the cost of rent for our homeless in the city of Davis could be via establishing a community fund to subsidize the rent of a homeless person for a period of six months. Another option is to work with local apartment complex managers in order to provide some of the vacant apartment complex units to members of the homeless without a fixed level of income. The homeless individuals without housing could actually be housed.

The solutions I have suggested, are a few of many that have worked in other communities across the country. We have the income in the community to house our homeless; we do not have to rely entirely on city and county government funds. We as a community must have a political will to house every homeless individual who wishes to be housed. This is the bottom line.

This article does not even be speak the other issues plaguing the homeless community that the community as a whole; not just city and county government agencies could do on the issues of a lack of health care upkeep, proper nutrition and the need for more drug detox (drug rehabilitation services and supporting discharge services).

I invite responses to my blog entry. It is my intention to bring about dialog around this critical issue in that we must house more members of our homeless population in the city of Davis. Please reader gain some inspiration from this article and do not just passively read my entry.

Richard Cipian is a college student and a homeless activist in the community.

He has a blog at: http://endhomelessnessindavis.blogspot.com/

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Land Use/Open Space

72 comments

  1. why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also “wish to be housed”

    also, why? you make it sound like we have solutions for regular homeless individualswho are motivated enough, but now you want to secure jobs for chronic drunks when regular students fight tooth and nail to get them, with little promise of them being an eventuality

    you also insinuate that we should share a large chunk of the spending for it, and no, it’a dead end.

  2. why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also “wish to be housed”

    also, why? you make it sound like we have solutions for regular homeless individualswho are motivated enough, but now you want to secure jobs for chronic drunks when regular students fight tooth and nail to get them, with little promise of them being an eventuality

    you also insinuate that we should share a large chunk of the spending for it, and no, it’a dead end.

  3. why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also “wish to be housed”

    also, why? you make it sound like we have solutions for regular homeless individualswho are motivated enough, but now you want to secure jobs for chronic drunks when regular students fight tooth and nail to get them, with little promise of them being an eventuality

    you also insinuate that we should share a large chunk of the spending for it, and no, it’a dead end.

  4. why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also “wish to be housed”

    also, why? you make it sound like we have solutions for regular homeless individualswho are motivated enough, but now you want to secure jobs for chronic drunks when regular students fight tooth and nail to get them, with little promise of them being an eventuality

    you also insinuate that we should share a large chunk of the spending for it, and no, it’a dead end.

  5. depravisite said… “why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also ‘wish to be housed'”

    Are those the same students that I see driving BMW and Lexus cars to school? Yeah, wow, those poor kids! I had a bike when I was a student and I still use it.

  6. depravisite said… “why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also ‘wish to be housed'”

    Are those the same students that I see driving BMW and Lexus cars to school? Yeah, wow, those poor kids! I had a bike when I was a student and I still use it.

  7. depravisite said… “why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also ‘wish to be housed'”

    Are those the same students that I see driving BMW and Lexus cars to school? Yeah, wow, those poor kids! I had a bike when I was a student and I still use it.

  8. depravisite said… “why are we trying to guarantee housing for drunk homeless people when i know of a few students who also ‘wish to be housed'”

    Are those the same students that I see driving BMW and Lexus cars to school? Yeah, wow, those poor kids! I had a bike when I was a student and I still use it.

  9. I guess I missed something here, the proposal called explicitly for people to be sober in this facility:

    “A major requirement for placement in this and other long-term housing programs in California like Davis Community Meals is the need for clients to be sober and if a client is suffering from a mental illness, the illness must be stable and treated with medication.”

  10. I guess I missed something here, the proposal called explicitly for people to be sober in this facility:

    “A major requirement for placement in this and other long-term housing programs in California like Davis Community Meals is the need for clients to be sober and if a client is suffering from a mental illness, the illness must be stable and treated with medication.”

  11. I guess I missed something here, the proposal called explicitly for people to be sober in this facility:

    “A major requirement for placement in this and other long-term housing programs in California like Davis Community Meals is the need for clients to be sober and if a client is suffering from a mental illness, the illness must be stable and treated with medication.”

  12. I guess I missed something here, the proposal called explicitly for people to be sober in this facility:

    “A major requirement for placement in this and other long-term housing programs in California like Davis Community Meals is the need for clients to be sober and if a client is suffering from a mental illness, the illness must be stable and treated with medication.”

  13. A valuable guest commentary that attempts to focus attention on this
    “human condition” that should not be ignored as we go about our busy days.
    My own feeling is that a lot of this work and support can come from our religious institutions as a living testament to their beliefs.

  14. A valuable guest commentary that attempts to focus attention on this
    “human condition” that should not be ignored as we go about our busy days.
    My own feeling is that a lot of this work and support can come from our religious institutions as a living testament to their beliefs.

  15. A valuable guest commentary that attempts to focus attention on this
    “human condition” that should not be ignored as we go about our busy days.
    My own feeling is that a lot of this work and support can come from our religious institutions as a living testament to their beliefs.

  16. A valuable guest commentary that attempts to focus attention on this
    “human condition” that should not be ignored as we go about our busy days.
    My own feeling is that a lot of this work and support can come from our religious institutions as a living testament to their beliefs.

  17. yeah, they’re ALL driving luxury cars! every one of them! none of them had their leases run out without having sucessfully found another place to live.

    doug – that was a description of pre-existing programs in addition to the cold weather one, which is specifically made to feed and temporarily shelter those who AREN’T medicated or sober.

    what he’s proposing is that since there are pre-existing plans for the homeless who arent sloshed or crazy, that such a program should be set up to guarantee housing and jobs for them. guarantee them.
    i’d like to be guaranteed that but i’m not homeless or crazy or carrying a bottle of jack with me.

    i mean this all sounds like the “socially right thing to do, man” but isnt there at least a nagging thought on how pointless and frankly wasteful this is?

  18. yeah, they’re ALL driving luxury cars! every one of them! none of them had their leases run out without having sucessfully found another place to live.

    doug – that was a description of pre-existing programs in addition to the cold weather one, which is specifically made to feed and temporarily shelter those who AREN’T medicated or sober.

    what he’s proposing is that since there are pre-existing plans for the homeless who arent sloshed or crazy, that such a program should be set up to guarantee housing and jobs for them. guarantee them.
    i’d like to be guaranteed that but i’m not homeless or crazy or carrying a bottle of jack with me.

    i mean this all sounds like the “socially right thing to do, man” but isnt there at least a nagging thought on how pointless and frankly wasteful this is?

  19. yeah, they’re ALL driving luxury cars! every one of them! none of them had their leases run out without having sucessfully found another place to live.

    doug – that was a description of pre-existing programs in addition to the cold weather one, which is specifically made to feed and temporarily shelter those who AREN’T medicated or sober.

    what he’s proposing is that since there are pre-existing plans for the homeless who arent sloshed or crazy, that such a program should be set up to guarantee housing and jobs for them. guarantee them.
    i’d like to be guaranteed that but i’m not homeless or crazy or carrying a bottle of jack with me.

    i mean this all sounds like the “socially right thing to do, man” but isnt there at least a nagging thought on how pointless and frankly wasteful this is?

  20. yeah, they’re ALL driving luxury cars! every one of them! none of them had their leases run out without having sucessfully found another place to live.

    doug – that was a description of pre-existing programs in addition to the cold weather one, which is specifically made to feed and temporarily shelter those who AREN’T medicated or sober.

    what he’s proposing is that since there are pre-existing plans for the homeless who arent sloshed or crazy, that such a program should be set up to guarantee housing and jobs for them. guarantee them.
    i’d like to be guaranteed that but i’m not homeless or crazy or carrying a bottle of jack with me.

    i mean this all sounds like the “socially right thing to do, man” but isnt there at least a nagging thought on how pointless and frankly wasteful this is?

  21. The Cold Weather shelter on 5th & D Street was supported by the neighborhood even though the shelter would allow people who arrived under the influence. The neighbors had been experiencing people camping, drinking, loudly interacting in the neighborhood, specifically at the Community Church, for years. It had been a continuing problem. The shelter provided a way for this population to be inside, fed, and have a period of 10-12 hours where they would not be using and get a night of decent sleep. The neighborhood actually experienced less disruption with the shelter in place. The shelter has been a very good neighbor. The health benefits – both physical & mental -to the people staying there could be studied. The Cold Weather shelter could be the first step to helping these people return to a more standard way of life. Though there will always be a number of people who choose to live houseless, no matter how many services are provided.

  22. The Cold Weather shelter on 5th & D Street was supported by the neighborhood even though the shelter would allow people who arrived under the influence. The neighbors had been experiencing people camping, drinking, loudly interacting in the neighborhood, specifically at the Community Church, for years. It had been a continuing problem. The shelter provided a way for this population to be inside, fed, and have a period of 10-12 hours where they would not be using and get a night of decent sleep. The neighborhood actually experienced less disruption with the shelter in place. The shelter has been a very good neighbor. The health benefits – both physical & mental -to the people staying there could be studied. The Cold Weather shelter could be the first step to helping these people return to a more standard way of life. Though there will always be a number of people who choose to live houseless, no matter how many services are provided.

  23. The Cold Weather shelter on 5th & D Street was supported by the neighborhood even though the shelter would allow people who arrived under the influence. The neighbors had been experiencing people camping, drinking, loudly interacting in the neighborhood, specifically at the Community Church, for years. It had been a continuing problem. The shelter provided a way for this population to be inside, fed, and have a period of 10-12 hours where they would not be using and get a night of decent sleep. The neighborhood actually experienced less disruption with the shelter in place. The shelter has been a very good neighbor. The health benefits – both physical & mental -to the people staying there could be studied. The Cold Weather shelter could be the first step to helping these people return to a more standard way of life. Though there will always be a number of people who choose to live houseless, no matter how many services are provided.

  24. The Cold Weather shelter on 5th & D Street was supported by the neighborhood even though the shelter would allow people who arrived under the influence. The neighbors had been experiencing people camping, drinking, loudly interacting in the neighborhood, specifically at the Community Church, for years. It had been a continuing problem. The shelter provided a way for this population to be inside, fed, and have a period of 10-12 hours where they would not be using and get a night of decent sleep. The neighborhood actually experienced less disruption with the shelter in place. The shelter has been a very good neighbor. The health benefits – both physical & mental -to the people staying there could be studied. The Cold Weather shelter could be the first step to helping these people return to a more standard way of life. Though there will always be a number of people who choose to live houseless, no matter how many services are provided.

  25. Richard Ciprian writes: “A condition could be established that homeless individuals being housed must look for work in at least six months from the date of being housed.”

    Assuming a homeless beneficiary is able bodied and of a reasonably sound mind, I think a better idea would be to require the person to perform some community services in order to receive the benefit. For example, clean up graffiti, weed public gardens, pick up garbage, etc. Once the service was done for the day, the housing would be there in exchange.

    As I wrote in my column, this week, we approach housing for the poor from the wrong side of the equation. The problem is not a lack of housing for the poor: the problem is a lack of money in the hands of the poor. We don’t grow public sheep so the poor can eat mutton; we give them food-stamps (albeit not enough).

    “Members of the homeless suffering from severe mental illness that we get off the street and house in such units could be matched up with social service advocates that could assist such members of the homeless population in applying for social security benefits.”

    My opinion is that we should treat individuals with ‘severe mental illness’ as dependent children. They should never be left on the street, never left to fend for themselves. Even if it meant locking them up, though not in prisons with criminals, where they could be forced to take medications, would have adequate shelter and food and so on, that would be greatly preferable to allowing these poor souls to suffer on the streets. We make a terrible mistake in treating them like emancipated adults who are responsible for their own behavior and welfare. It sickens me when I hear of cases where someone with schizophrenia harms himself or others because he “chose to stop taking his meds.” He should not be given that choice. He is mentally ill and ought not be given that kind of responsibility.

    “An option to subsidizing the cost of rent for our homeless in the city of Davis could be via establishing a community fund to subsidize the rent of a homeless person for a period of six months.”

    This is not a bad idea. However, I believe we (as a country) would be better off if the federal government, which ultimately funds all of our public housing and even subsidizes the development of a lot of middle-class “private” housing, would give the money (in housing stamps) directly to poor people (in exchange for public service), the way it gives them food stamps for nutrition.

  26. Richard Ciprian writes: “A condition could be established that homeless individuals being housed must look for work in at least six months from the date of being housed.”

    Assuming a homeless beneficiary is able bodied and of a reasonably sound mind, I think a better idea would be to require the person to perform some community services in order to receive the benefit. For example, clean up graffiti, weed public gardens, pick up garbage, etc. Once the service was done for the day, the housing would be there in exchange.

    As I wrote in my column, this week, we approach housing for the poor from the wrong side of the equation. The problem is not a lack of housing for the poor: the problem is a lack of money in the hands of the poor. We don’t grow public sheep so the poor can eat mutton; we give them food-stamps (albeit not enough).

    “Members of the homeless suffering from severe mental illness that we get off the street and house in such units could be matched up with social service advocates that could assist such members of the homeless population in applying for social security benefits.”

    My opinion is that we should treat individuals with ‘severe mental illness’ as dependent children. They should never be left on the street, never left to fend for themselves. Even if it meant locking them up, though not in prisons with criminals, where they could be forced to take medications, would have adequate shelter and food and so on, that would be greatly preferable to allowing these poor souls to suffer on the streets. We make a terrible mistake in treating them like emancipated adults who are responsible for their own behavior and welfare. It sickens me when I hear of cases where someone with schizophrenia harms himself or others because he “chose to stop taking his meds.” He should not be given that choice. He is mentally ill and ought not be given that kind of responsibility.

    “An option to subsidizing the cost of rent for our homeless in the city of Davis could be via establishing a community fund to subsidize the rent of a homeless person for a period of six months.”

    This is not a bad idea. However, I believe we (as a country) would be better off if the federal government, which ultimately funds all of our public housing and even subsidizes the development of a lot of middle-class “private” housing, would give the money (in housing stamps) directly to poor people (in exchange for public service), the way it gives them food stamps for nutrition.

  27. Richard Ciprian writes: “A condition could be established that homeless individuals being housed must look for work in at least six months from the date of being housed.”

    Assuming a homeless beneficiary is able bodied and of a reasonably sound mind, I think a better idea would be to require the person to perform some community services in order to receive the benefit. For example, clean up graffiti, weed public gardens, pick up garbage, etc. Once the service was done for the day, the housing would be there in exchange.

    As I wrote in my column, this week, we approach housing for the poor from the wrong side of the equation. The problem is not a lack of housing for the poor: the problem is a lack of money in the hands of the poor. We don’t grow public sheep so the poor can eat mutton; we give them food-stamps (albeit not enough).

    “Members of the homeless suffering from severe mental illness that we get off the street and house in such units could be matched up with social service advocates that could assist such members of the homeless population in applying for social security benefits.”

    My opinion is that we should treat individuals with ‘severe mental illness’ as dependent children. They should never be left on the street, never left to fend for themselves. Even if it meant locking them up, though not in prisons with criminals, where they could be forced to take medications, would have adequate shelter and food and so on, that would be greatly preferable to allowing these poor souls to suffer on the streets. We make a terrible mistake in treating them like emancipated adults who are responsible for their own behavior and welfare. It sickens me when I hear of cases where someone with schizophrenia harms himself or others because he “chose to stop taking his meds.” He should not be given that choice. He is mentally ill and ought not be given that kind of responsibility.

    “An option to subsidizing the cost of rent for our homeless in the city of Davis could be via establishing a community fund to subsidize the rent of a homeless person for a period of six months.”

    This is not a bad idea. However, I believe we (as a country) would be better off if the federal government, which ultimately funds all of our public housing and even subsidizes the development of a lot of middle-class “private” housing, would give the money (in housing stamps) directly to poor people (in exchange for public service), the way it gives them food stamps for nutrition.

  28. Richard Ciprian writes: “A condition could be established that homeless individuals being housed must look for work in at least six months from the date of being housed.”

    Assuming a homeless beneficiary is able bodied and of a reasonably sound mind, I think a better idea would be to require the person to perform some community services in order to receive the benefit. For example, clean up graffiti, weed public gardens, pick up garbage, etc. Once the service was done for the day, the housing would be there in exchange.

    As I wrote in my column, this week, we approach housing for the poor from the wrong side of the equation. The problem is not a lack of housing for the poor: the problem is a lack of money in the hands of the poor. We don’t grow public sheep so the poor can eat mutton; we give them food-stamps (albeit not enough).

    “Members of the homeless suffering from severe mental illness that we get off the street and house in such units could be matched up with social service advocates that could assist such members of the homeless population in applying for social security benefits.”

    My opinion is that we should treat individuals with ‘severe mental illness’ as dependent children. They should never be left on the street, never left to fend for themselves. Even if it meant locking them up, though not in prisons with criminals, where they could be forced to take medications, would have adequate shelter and food and so on, that would be greatly preferable to allowing these poor souls to suffer on the streets. We make a terrible mistake in treating them like emancipated adults who are responsible for their own behavior and welfare. It sickens me when I hear of cases where someone with schizophrenia harms himself or others because he “chose to stop taking his meds.” He should not be given that choice. He is mentally ill and ought not be given that kind of responsibility.

    “An option to subsidizing the cost of rent for our homeless in the city of Davis could be via establishing a community fund to subsidize the rent of a homeless person for a period of six months.”

    This is not a bad idea. However, I believe we (as a country) would be better off if the federal government, which ultimately funds all of our public housing and even subsidizes the development of a lot of middle-class “private” housing, would give the money (in housing stamps) directly to poor people (in exchange for public service), the way it gives them food stamps for nutrition.