The County Board of Supervisors, Sacramento City Council and the Sacramento City/County Continuum of Care are considering actions and funding recommended in the Sacramento COVID-19 Homelessness Response Plan (Homelessness Response Plan). Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved the plan today, the City Council will vote tonight. Recommended by the Sacramento COVID-19 Homelessness Response Team (Homelessness Response Team), the plan includes strategies and actions necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate impacts for persons experiencing homelessness. Collectively, the Homelessness Response Plan allocated more than $15 million to use for COVID-19 specific response for persons experiencing homelessness. All elements of the Plan are launching immediately, and some activities are already underway as noted within each description.
Keeping Existing Emergency Shelters Safe and Operational
This strategy ensures that existing shelters can safely remain open following the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and continue to serve the general homeless populations. To support shelter providers and protect shelter guests, the Homelessness Response Team is providing specific guidance for assessing clients who enter daily and for implementing sanitation and physical distancing protocols. The Homelessness Response Team is coordinating orders and distribution of sanitation supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Additional work is underway to better connect shelters to medical resources and Public Health to facilitate referrals to isolation/quarantine units when warranted.
Recognizing the increased burden on shelter providers, today’s recommendations include modest augmentation for six sheltering programs. This includes asking providers to prioritize highly vulnerable persons, or to expand and create dormitory quarantine space. The North 5th Street shelter was recently expanded to accommodate an additional 40 highly vulnerable persons experiencing homelessness in its vicinity. 20 individuals were already placed in this expansion over the weekend.
Ensuring Safety and Health for Persons Living Outdoors
The Homelessness Response Plan identifies several activities to support persons living outside to remain safely in place per CDC guidance for unsheltered persons. Specific support activities include:
- Increased facilities for sanitation will provide encampments of more than 10 persons with portable latrines and handwashing facilities, when not available nearby. Sacramento County Health Services has ordered 65 latrines, 30 with wash stations inside and an additional 20 separate wash stations. However, supply chain is impacted, so we are staging as they come in. We want to make sure that placements are matched to the highest need. Three latrines are being deployed in City locations today (sinks are already there), but placement will be happening throughout the County in the near term as orders come, need is verified, and all necessary arrangements are made.
- Daily support to meet needs including the provision of daily meals and hygiene kits. To date, 420 meals per day (M-F) are being delivered, ramping up to 500 per day through the Homeless Response Team efforts and another 400-500 per day through a community provider.
- Ongoing outreach and engagement to assess health of persons living in encampments and to connect symptomatic persons with medical care and to isolation/quarantine units, when warranted. Encampments have already been canvassed for size and location in seven of the 13 areas throughout the County.
Creating Isolation/Quarantine Units for Persons Experiencing Homelessness
The Homelessness Response Plan recommends funding to provide safe places for persons experiencing homelessness who are COVID-19 positive or pending, symptomatic, or otherwise highly vulnerable. Using existing motels throughout the community and State-donated trailers placed at Cal Expo, two models will be put into operation. These include:
- Medically Supported Isolation Care centers reserved for persons either confirmed positive or pending investigation who can self-care. Onsite medical staff will monitor health and assess whether a person needs a higher level of care. Sheltering staff will coordinate meeting daily needs, including meals and other supportive services.
- Preventative Quarantine Units will be prioritized for persons who are highly vulnerable and symptomatic and may also be made available for other highly vulnerable populations. Telephonic medical care support will be provided, and provider staff will coordinate meeting daily needs.
The first sites are launching with the adoption of the Homelessness Response Plan, beginning this Thursday, April 9. Staging and additional ramp-up of isolation/quarantine units will be done under the advice of the County Department of Health Services (DHS) as they monitor virus progression in the homeless populations.
While operationalizing the essential elements of the isolation/quarantine program over the past several weeks, 37 individuals and 17 families identified as being high-risk or extremely vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus have been placed in motel units under the County’s existing vouchering program.
Access to Isolation/Quarantine Units
Under the Homelessness Response Plan, placement in both isolation and quarantine units will be coordinated centrally with referrals made through designated referral partners, including healthcare partners, emergency shelters, designated outreach providers, Correctional Health and identified law enforcement. Persons will be assessed in accordance with prioritization developed by County DHS as indicated below.
|1||COVID positive – any age|
|2||Under public health/medical investigation, pending test OR has recently been exposed to a COVID positive person. (regardless of symptoms and age)|
- 65+ years and pre-existing health conditions with symptoms*
- 65+ years and pre-existing health conditions with symptoms and recently released from the hospital, jails, homeless designated FQHC
- 65+ year OR has pre-existing health conditions with symptoms
- 65+ year OR has pre-existing health conditions with symptoms and recently released from the hospital, jails, homeless designated FQHC
- Any age with symptoms
- Any age with symptoms and recently released from the hospital, jails, homeless designated FQHC
|6||65+ years with pre-existing conditions, no symptoms |
|7||All ages with pre-existing conditions, no symptoms|
*Symptoms include fever by temperature and new or worsening cough.
The Homelessness Response Team notes several ongoing challenges, including staff and provider capacity, transportation, coordination with the larger emergency response efforts, expectations about access to isolation/quarantine units, and managing exits from the isolation/quarantine units when the crisis is over. The Homelessness Response Team intends to continue to meet challenges as they come up by making plan adjustments and course corrections when necessary, while working with other agencies and departments. Staff will continue to provide reports to the public and to the governing bodies at least monthly on its actions and progress.
About the Sacramento COVID-19 Homelessness Response Team
The Sacramento COVID-19 Homelessness Response Team is a part of a broader County and City emergency and public health response to COVID-19 in the homeless populations. The Homelessness Response Team is comprised of representatives from Sacramento County Departments of Health Services (DHS) and Human Assistance (DHA), County Director of Homeless Initiatives, the City of Sacramento Homeless Services Division, Sacramento Steps Forward and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA).