The results of a Citrus Heights Police Department annual survey on homelessness are in: the homeless population has dropped in Citrus Heights and the number of homeless-related calls for service have dropped significantly as well.
During the department’s latest month-long survey, conducted annually in April, police identified a total of 85 homeless individuals in Citrus Heights — compared with 192 individuals identified the prior year, according to a June 22 report to the city council by Commander Gina Anderson.
She said calls for service also showed a significant drop in comparing fiscal year 2015-16 with 2016-17, with homeless-related calls dropping from 30-35 percent down to 17-22 percent of total calls for service received by police. The department tweeted last week that it had received over 88,000 total calls for service last year.
Asked about the reason for the range in percentages reported, Police Sgt. Jason Baldwin previously told The Sentinel the flex is due to difficulty in determining whether certain calls actually involved a homeless person — such as loitering or panhandling calls.
From 2016: “Over 30% of calls to CHPD are homeless-related, police say”
Commander Anderson credited the drop in homeless population and associated service calls to the work of a fully funded “homeless navigator” in the city, as well as the work of various nonprofits and churches who helped host a winter shelter program and “stand down” event for the homeless. She said the drop frees up time for officers to spend addressing other calls and needs in the community.
Anderson said CHPD has a two-fold strategy to homeless: “Taking law enforcement action against those homeless people who are criminal and homeless, as well as identifying homeless people who want resources and being able to get resources to those people who want to be housed and off the street.”
In 2015, the City of Citrus Heights experimented with funding a “navigator” on a part-time basis, with the goal of helping provide homeless with resources and assistance in becoming permanently housed. After seeing the results of the first year of the program, the city council voted to fully fund the navigator during 2016-17 for about $50,000.
“Right now the city has a success rate in this program of 43 percent,” City Development Specialist Katherine Cooley reported to the council in a joint presentation with Commander Anderson last month. She said of 164 participants who received help from the navigator, 58 were permanently housed, 13 were temporarily housed, and 36 participated in an eight-week winter sanctuary put on by the Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team, a local nonprofit formed in 2015.
Related story: “Winter Shelter: churches, volunteers help homeless off Citrus Heights streets“
“Ideally someone is housed through the program,” said Cooley. “But secondarily they are provided with resources that remove the barriers to getting them housed.”
The full-time navigator is provided through an area nonprofit, Sacramento Self Help Housing, and funded through the city’s economic development support fund, federally funded Community Development Block Grant funds, and community support funding.
Following the presentation, council members voted 5-0 to renew the homeless navigator contract. Mayor Jeff Slowey said the program isn’t perfect but “it’s one of the programs we’ve tried that is actually showing great results.”
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