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Homelessness Case Stories

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These case stories illustrate the creative and collaborative ways that local governments are combating homelessness in California communities.

We know there are many more examples of innovative and successful programs throughout the state, and we welcome you to share your agency’s story with us.

Please share lessons learned and examples of homelessness programs, partnerships or initiatives by contacting the Institute at 916-658-8202 or mkuehne@ca-ilg.org.

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Alameda County – Care Connect (AC3)

The California Department of Health Care Services (HCS) in 2016 awarded the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA) $140 million to implement a whole person care pilot program. The goal of the pilot, or AC3, is to build infrastructure that will improve integration, reduce unnecessary utilization of health care services, and improve health outcomes for homeless individuals and other ‘high utilizers’ of health care services.

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City of Anaheim – Homelessness Outreach Team

Since 2014, the City of Anaheim has transitioned 960 people from homelessness, with 92 percent still housed a year later.

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City of Bakersfield – Job and Skills Training

In May 2013, the City of Bakersfield partnered with the Bakersfield Homeless Center (BHC) on an agreement to help solve the problem of highway litter after state budget cuts reduced Caltrans’ resources to clean up highways. The partnership developed an innovative freeway litter clean up program on the local freeways by members of the homeless community. The program would provide job training skills and increase employment opportunities for the homeless population and the problem of highway litter.

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Downtown Streets Team

Founded in 2005, Downtown Streets Team is a nonprofit addressing homelessness by not only providing solutions to homeless men and women, but also challenging them to take an active role in their own recovery. This takes the form of having the homeless volunteer with Downtown Streets Team on beatification projects within their respective communities. In return, the volunteers or ‘Team Members’ receive necessities including a stipend, alongside vital health services and case management.

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City of Citrus Heights – Navigator Program

In 2015, the City of Citrus Heights faced the growing need of providing services to its homeless population. Post-recession, the city had experienced the reduction of services into the urban core. To address the homelessness need, the Citrus Heights Police Department conducted a survey of the homeless community and found there was a predominate desire to stay within the boundaries of the city even though most homeless resources were not available within the city limits.

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City of Fresno – Poverello House

Launched in 2004, the Poverello House, a homeless shelter in Fresno, created the Village of Hope and in 2007, expanded to include the Community of Hope to meet an increasing demand for homeless shelters. The Villages consist of tiny homes, or Tuff Sheds, that accommodate about 124 clients every night. Homeless individuals staying in the Villages have access to services such as education, substance abuse counseling and life-skills training coordinated by a Client Services Coordinator.

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Los Angeles County – Interfaith Summit on Homelessness

On June 7, 2017, the Los Angeles County’s Homeless Initiative and LA Voice, a local multi-ethnic, interfaith organization of 60 congregations across LA County, hosted the county’s first Interfaith Summit on Homelessness, with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

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Los Angeles County – Home for Good

In 2010, seeing the growing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles, United Way worked with the LA Area Chamber of Commerce to launch Home For Good. The partnership has managed to bring together various stakeholders from both public and private sectors to coordinate ways to address homelessness through permanent housing systems and solutions.

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Marin County – Homeless Outreach Team

In response to persistent high visibility people on the street who were also high utilizers of expensive services, Marin County community began piloting a new approach called HOT (Homeless Outreach Team). Marin created its version of HOT based on what was being done successfully in San Mateo. 

The HOT process in Marin involved:

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Marin County – Landlord Partnership Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is a huge investment of federal funds into the County of Marin. There were people in Marin holding vouchers who could not use them.They were hearing that landlords were hesitant to take vouchers due to a perception that voucher holders were bad tenants and would damage units. The Marin Housing Authority knew that the clear majority of voucher holders were good, hard working, tenants.

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Sacramento County – Sacramento Steps Forward

Originally created in 2009, Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) has become a leading nonprofit in the Sacramento region working to end homelessness. The nonprofit has taken a collaborative approach to addressing homelessness by developing a regional effort with multiple stakeholders and partners working collectively on managing resources and services. In addition, SSF has focused on a data-driven and outcomes-based approach to ensure it is implementing effective strategies and practices.

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Sacramento County – Saint John’s Program for Change

Saint John’s Program for Real Change operates the largest shelter in Sacramento County, and the only one focused exclusively on homeless women and children. Its total daily capacity is 270, with an annual capacity of 1,000. Sacramento County’s point in time count in July of 2017 was 3,666 were counted as living without permanent shelter and 2,000 of those people living outside. 

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City of San Diego – Housing our Heroes

In 2016, the City of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) partnered to launch the Housing our Heroes initiative and committed to getting 1,000 homeless veterans off the streets and into shelters or housing. This initiative is part of Housing First – San Diego, the SDHC’s three-year Homelessness Action Plan started in 2014.

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San Diego County – Project 25

San Diego County is home to the fifth largest homeless population in the nation. Project 25, a pilot funded by United Way, was a three-year (2011‒2013) project designed to determine if direct coordinated services for the community’s most frequent homeless service users could significantly reduce the costs of homelessness. The project was a collaborative effort coordinated by the homelessness charity, St. Vincent de Paul Village, in partnership with Telecare Corporation and under contract with the County of San Diego.

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City of San José – Streamlined Temporary & Incidental Shelter Program

To address the homeless crisis, the City of San José adopted a new ordinance in August 2017 that created a streamlined process for the allowance of temporary and incidental shelters without the requirement of an approved Development Permit. In ordered to be approved, the shelter must be registered with the city Housing Department and meet specific performance standards and other requirements.

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City of San Leandro – Homeless Compact

In March 2016, the City of San Leandro (human services and police departments), partnered with Building Futures with Women & Children (a local nonprofit service provider) and the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County (a landlord association) to form the San Leandro Homeless Compact, a collaborative dedicated to providing long-term housing and services to chronically homeless individuals in San Leandro. The compact represents the first of its kind in Northern California.

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City of San Mateo – LifeMoves

San Mateo LifeMoves is using a multifaceted therapeutic service model to end homelessness in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. The model includes using modern housing in conjunction with intensive and tailored health services.

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Yolo County – Bridge to Housing Program

Yolo County, the City of West Sacramento, and Yolo County Housing collaborated on a pilot project in 2014 to relocate an entire homeless encampment on a West Sacramento riverbank. The project relocated the encampment to a single motel where participants were offered temporary housing, case management and services.

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Yuba County – 14Forward Program

In 2016, Yuba County collaborated with local non-profits, faith-based organizations and the private sector to launch a temporary shelter community for its local homeless population. Faced with the problem of several encampments along surrounding rivers, the county created a 20-unit ‘tiny’ village of Tuff Sheds to relocate some of the homeless population. The Tuff Sheds are 12’ x 8’ tiny shelters with beds, windows and insulation. They do not have electricity or running water, but there are lavatories on-site as well as a nearby homelessness center that offers meals and showers.

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