On Thursday March 21st the Santa Cruz County Business Council Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt a formal position on the issue of homelessness. This decision comes as the issue of homelessness is reaching a breaking point locally, with the number of people sleeping outside having increased in the latest Point In Time (PIT) count, with the closure of the only City sanctioned temporary campsite at River Street last November, and with the unsanctioned creation of the illegal campsite at the intersection of Highway 1 and 9, otherwise known as the Gateway Plaza or Ross camp.
Beyond these developments, the County and City are also both set to receive a one time lump sum of funding totaling over $10 Million over the next 2 years. Add to this Measure G funds, which were passed and endorsed by the business community, and we actually have the opportunity to turn the corner and reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness, but we have to act decisively and immediately.
The Business Council’s position both acknowledges the work and planning that has already occurred (and is occurring), while plotting a path forward that is more in line with the policy approach of the County, and a clear majority of service providers. Fundamentally, our organization is supportive of the All In Plan to End Homelessness, that was adopted formally by all jurisdictions in 2016, which relies on a housing first approach, paired with appropriate wrap around social services to get people out of homelessness. While temporary shelters and encampments are important, and perhaps necessary in specific instances, these policies alone have not been empirically proven to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness long term.
A summary of the issue, prior planning, court cases, funding streams, etc. are found in the following Business Council staff presentation. Listed below the presentation is the motion that was formally passed by our Board on the 21st of March 2019. Lastly, following the motion, is a comprehensive list of resources including existing planning documents, case studies, formal strategies, articles and more for SCCBC members to utilize.
Formally Adopted Motion:
That the Santa Cruz County Business Council formally adopt the position that the preferred policy approach for addressing homelessness within Santa Cruz County be focused on, but not limited to, the following 4 core programs and processes:
- That all relevant government jurisdictions work together to site, construct, and operate multiple Navigation Centers within Santa Cruz County for the purposes of addressing chronic homelessness, and to facilitate individuals experiencing homelessness to get on a long term path to housing;
- That one of the Navigation Centers be constructed and operated at the Homeless Services Center at 115 Coral Street in the City of Santa Cruz
- That all relevant government jurisdictions work together to implement a Rapid Re-Housing Program for those who have recently become homeless (within the past year);
- That all relevant government jurisdictions work together to properly collect and track any data relevant for the proper and appropriate administration of all programs and policies related to homelessness, which should include but not be limited to:
- Familial relations
- Where they became homeless
- Why did they become homeless
- Whether or not they are suffering from mental illness
- Whether or not they are suffering from addiction, and if they are, what substances and how often
- How often they have utilized emergency services
- How often they have been cited by the police/sheriff/parks staff
- That the business community have formal representation on any relevant local legislative or advisory bodies charged with addressing homelessness.
Underlying Policy Assumptions:
Policies and Case Studies: