SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the $4.4 billion recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.

“Sacramento County’s FY 2019-20 budget provided substantial challenges due in part to decreased state and federal revenues, significant costs around lawsuits and increased expenditures,” said District 2 County Supervisor and Board Chair Patrick Kennedy. “We were able to weather these challenges with a balanced budget that minimizes the impact to critical services, without eliminating whole programs or services.”

The County’s General Fund and Restricted Funds budgets for FY 2019-20 totaled $2.7 billion in appropriations, which is a 4.2 percent increase over last year’s total. Enterprise and special revenue funds comprise the remaining $1.68 billion.

“We were able to recommend a balanced budget that avoided eliminating whole programs or services, limited the impact on Board-priority programs and avoided employee layoffs,” said County Executive Nav Gill.

In spite of the growth of revenue, reductions in positions and programs were necessary due to lawsuit costs, investments in the jails in order to resolve a lawsuit around conditions of confinement, decreases in state and federal revenue for certain programs, as well as other obligations.

To close a general shortfall of $55 million, Sacramento County recommended $43 million in reductions in General Fund Departments and $12 million in General Fund reserves to bridge the gap.

General Fund departments identified a number of targeted program and position reductions. The reductions included the elimination of 181.3 FTE positions that were either vacant or, in a few cases, filled by employees who were shifted to other positions in the same class. No layoffs were necessary.

The budget also recognized areas of growth, including:

$21.7 million to make improvements to the County’s jails as part of continuing efforts to resolve conditions of confinement concerns identified in a recent lawsuit; $2.3 million in state and federal revenue to add 25 FTE positions in Child Support Services; $1.2 million in 2011 Realignment Local Innovation funds to add seven positions in Probation to establish a Pre-Trial Assessment and Monitoring Pilot Program; $1 million set aside for costs related to the Hardesty/Schneider lawsuit against the County; $3.5 million to add 29 FTE positions in Airports Department to handle the impact of increasing passenger and freight volume; and $668,000 to cover the cost of postcards and postage for the March 2020 Primary Election, as required by state law.

The budget also continued funding for programs and services that were initiated over the last few years with Board approval, including:

Homeless Initiatives: The FY 2019-20 Budget expands services in several areas using state and federal funding, for a total of a $20 million budget for the initiatives. A $700,000 reduction in funding for the Scattered Site Housing program subsidies (contractor did not need the full amount and placed families in federally funded housing slots). The remaining amount for the Scattered Site Housing program is $2 million;

The Parkways and Unincorporated Communities Clean-up and Safety Initiative to reduce the incidence and mitigate the impact of illegal camping in the County’s parkways and unincorporated communities received continued funding with a reduced level of deputies on the Homeless Outreach Teams, reduced hours for the Parks Resource Team and eliminated funding for an animal control officer;

The intelligence-led policing model implemented by the Sheriff’s Department;

The Healthy Partners Program that provides healthcare services to undocumented immigrants;

A strategic plan to reduce disproportionate African-American child deaths through community-based contracts and targeted staffing in Child Protective Services, Public Health and Probation;

Implementation of an Adult Supervision Model in Probation that will prioritize supervision and services for high-risk probationers in the first six months to a year of probation;

Behavioral Health Services enhancements to provide appropriate services to persons with serious drug and alcohol use disorders, reducing reliance on hospital emergency rooms, and ensuring that individuals experiencing a mental health crisis receive treatment in the most appropriate setting for their needs;

Continue to implement the Board-approved three-year MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) to expedite mental health services for individuals with serious mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorders and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless;

Animal Care Initiatives focused on improving animal care, increased spay/neuter services and increasing the Bradshaw Shelter’s live release rate. The budget recommends reductions in contracts and two positions, but the department expects to continue to maintain its high live release rate;

Efforts to reduce fire danger and illegal camping, increase debris removal and enhance the visitor experience in the American River Parkway and the County’s Regional Parks will continue with a reduced number of seasonal staff hours from 9,000 to 4,654;

For details, read the County Executive’s Budget Letter or view the budget documents on the Office of Budget and Debt Management;

The numbers on the Recommended Budget will change between now and September, when the County receives new information, including the impact of the State Budget and updated revenue totals. The Final Budget will come back to the Board of Supervisors in September for review and adoption.

By the numbers: $4.4 B: Total Budget; $1.8 B: General Fund; $1.6 B: Enterprise and Special Revenue; $918 M: Restricted Funds; 12,307: Number of Employees.

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Empowering Youth to Be Champions for Change

By Ken Casparis, Sacramento County  |  2019-06-14

Panelists from the Homelessness Town Hall at C.K. McClatchy High School. Left to Right: Jacob Bytel (City of Sacramento Mayor’s Office), Julian Oakley (Wind Youth Services), Diana Anderson (Wind Youth Services), Kamryn Hall (Event organizer), Adriana Ruelas (Steinberg Institute) and Eduardo Ameneyro (Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance). Photo by Ellen Wong, courtesy of C.K. McClatchy High School

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - This past April, Kamryn Hall, a senior at C.K. McClatchy High School, organized and hosted a town hall event centered on homelessness as her senior project for the Humanities and International Studies Program (HISP). Representatives from the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, the City of Sacramento Mayor’s office, the Steinberg Institute and Wind Youth Services made up the panel.

The goal for this town hall was to educate and help youth who care about homelessness – and those experiencing homelessness – to learn more, and to help inspire others to take action and find ways to get involved in helping the cause.

Hall’s interest in homelessness is based on her observations of those living unsheltered in Sacramento. Knowing that homelessness is a big issue that has been declared a crisis, she felt that it was important to raise her classmates’ level of awareness and to get them interested in being a part of the solution.

This event was open to C.K. McClatchy students and staff, and the panel was made up of various community organizations who are working to assist homeless communities. Hall intentionally invited direct service providers and those responsible for developing homeless programs and policy.

“I set this up just for students so that it wasn’t political; it was just about education and asking questions,” said Hall. “I wanted people to be educated on the situation, and it made for a more relaxed atmosphere.”

Eduardo Ameneyro (pictured far right), Homeless Services Division Manager for the Department of Human Assistance, provided a unique perspective on behalf of his department’s core business as the administrator of welfare entitlement programs, as well as the division leading the Initiatives to Reduce Homelessness. “Homelessness is incredibly complex and cannot be completely resolved with housing. My team's work in each of the initiatives is highlighting the role generational poverty (and poverty in general) plays in homelessness.”

Meghan Marshall, Flexible Supportive Rehousing Manager for the Department of Human Assistance, was invited to attend this event. “The concern and compassion expressed by the students for those experiencing homelessness in our community was moving and brings me great hope,” said Marshall. “Getting youth involved and engaged in social welfare issues as early as possible is an investment in our future.”

One thing that surprised Hall and her fellow students were the unexpected factors that contribute to individuals experiencing homelessness, especially with regard to homeless youth who have fled abuse and other bad situations at home.

Hall’s town hall event helped change how both students and staff think about not just individuals experiencing homelessness, but about homelessness as a whole. A classmate approached Hall in her economics class to let her know the impact this event had on her. The classmate explained that a friend of hers was experiencing homelessness and, because of what she learned from the panelists, she took her to Wind Youth Services to receive medical attention and other services.

Check out the Responding to Homelessness in the County of Sacramento webpage to learn more about the Initiatives to Reduce Homelessness.

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Stopping Crime Before It Starts

By Patrick Larenas  |  2019-06-12

From left to right: Officer James Garing, CSO Larissa Wasilevsky, and Officer Felicia Taylor. Photo courtesy of Citrus Heights Police Department.

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD) will be offering a safety training Business Academy for business owners and managers on Thursday, June 20, and Thursday, June 27, from 8 am to 12 noon.

Participants at the Business Academy will receive an introduction to the criminal justice system and learn to deal with and decrease business related crimes. “The Business Academy was created to deal effectively with business related issues and crimes such as shoplifting, theft, homeless loitering and counterfit money,” said Program Coordinator for the Business Academy, Larissa Wasilevsky.

“The program is a way to create partnerships with community business owners, managers and the Police Department. Crime is down overall 10 percent from 2018,” said Wasilevsky, “but we know there are a number of new businesses moving into the city and we want them to be prepared in case a crime happens.”

A wide variety of skilled and experienced crime related instructors will be hosted including:

Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) officer James Garing will be speaking on the subject of firearms and active shooter situations;

Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) Navigator Tony Morgan will focus on how to deal with homeless people in business situations and why homelessness happens;

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) specialist Felicia Taylor will deal with neighborhood, location and landscape issues associated with business crime;

Police Dispatcher Mark King will explain to students how to call the Police Department, how to become a good witness, how to describe suspects and other questions when contacting the Police Department.

The deadline to sign up is June 18 and participants will receive a Certificate of Participation. Future courses may be offered depending on community interest. To sign up contact Larissa Wasilevsky at (916) 727-5879 or at lwasilevsky@citrusheights.net

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Women's Empowerment Gala Fundraiser for Formerly Homeless Women

By Kristin Thébaud, Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2019-05-30

Women’s Empowerment graduates enjoy the 2018 Celebration of Independence Gala wearing ballgowns donated by the community. Courtesy Women

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Community members are invited to the 18th Annual Celebration of Independence Gala that benefits Women’s Empowerment, a local nonprofit job training and empowerment program for women who are homeless and their children. The event, which raises funds for the organization and honors the group’s 1,574 graduates, will take place 5:30-8:45 p.m. on June 20 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, 1209 L Street.

Guests will mingle with program graduates and enjoy a formal dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and graduate presentations.

Tickets are $150. Those who cannot attend, or wish to contribute, can sponsor graduates to attend the event. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, call (916) 669-2307 or visit www.womens-empowerment.org.

At the event, Women’s Empowerment will announce the winner of the 2019 To Heal the World Award, created in honor of founding social social worker, Erie Shockey. The award, which was first given to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, recognizes a local hero who inspires others to engage in social change and makes the Sacramento community a better place for all.

“Joy and laughter fill the room every year at this beautiful event where donors, volunteers and community members have the chance to connect with women who were once homeless and invisible and are now wearing evening gowns and being celebrated for all they have accomplished,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment.

“This gala not only celebrates the amazing women who break the cycle of homelessness each year, it also is our largest fundraiser of the year and ensures we can continue to meet the needs of homeless women in our community as Sacramento battles housing and homeless crises. This is a chance to come together and tackle these issues in a positive way,” said Culp.

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,574 homeless women and their 3,627 children.

Last year, 82 percent of graduates found homes and 76 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento.

To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org.

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Earlier this year, Governor Newsom announced that he was going to make housing his top priority, and called for 3.5 million new homes to be built in California within six years.  I believe this is a laudable top priority, and have previously written about the great need in our region for more housing. To start with, Governor Newsom wisely announced $500 million in awards to cities and counties that meet new, short-term housing goals.  I believe the enticement of these funds can propel real change, and I hope Sacramento County will win some of this money.

Unfortunately, Governor Newsom coupled this “carrot” with an extremely dangerous “stick”, in the form of withholding gas tax money from cities and counties that don’t meet the regional housing targets set by the state.  This has shaken virtually the entire state, as 97% of California cities and counties (including Sacramento County) are not hitting their housing targets.

This plan has a fundamental flaw in logic because it ties gas tax money to production goals, when counties are only accountable for planning.  We should, and do, encourage housing through the land use process, but the decision whether to build more housing comes largely from factors outside our control.  We cannot force builders to build, nor can we force financial institutions to lend the builders money.

Even when projects have been approved, lately we are seeing production slowed down because the builders cannot find enough carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. to do the work, in part because the state has seemingly abandoned vocational education.  Too few schools have a “shop class”, and too many children have been told that college was the only route to success, when in reality jobs working in the trades can often pay more than jobs that require a college education.

Beyond that, I believe it’s wrong to threaten our gas tax road funding, especially after voters went to the polls last November and voted to keep the gas tax.  I’m not sure the gas tax repeal would have failed, had voters known the funding could be taken away for something entirely out of their control.

Our roads cannot bear even a small reduction in funding.  As I wrote about earlier this year, even with the gas tax in place, the County needs an additional $15-20 million yearly just to maintain the roads at the current level, or an additional $50 million yearly to get them to a standard people would describe as “good”.  

If Governor Newsom is serious about wanting to build 3.5 million new homes in California, beyond incentives he needs to look at the high cost of construction.  It is extremely expensive for a builder in California to conform to the unique regulations contained within the California Environmental Quality Act, and the enormous California Building Code grows larger each year.  These regulations are part of the reason that a home in California is 2.4 times more expensive than a comparable home in Texas.

There are potential solutions to this housing crisis, but threatening counties like Sacramento for a problem out of our control ignores the root of the problem, and is ultimately doomed to fail.

Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Homelessness and housing instability forces families to make hard choices about the necessities of life and can make a significant impact on a family’s overall well-being. For families receiving reunification and family maintenance services through child welfare, Sacramento County is helping to address these housing needs with the Bringing Families Home housing program.

The goal of this program is to reduce the number of families experiencing homelessness, increase family reunification, and prevent foster care placements.

Bringing Families Home is a California Department of Social Services grant-funded program that began July 2017 and has already supported 87 families in need of housing services. Over the next year, the program will secure housing for a minimum of 100 Sacramento County families who are completing court-ordered services and working towards family reunification.

“Housing is a basic need and when parents are experiencing homelessness and housing instability, this need is often prioritized over the required services needed for reunification,” said Sacramento County Program Planner, Niku Mohanty-Campbell.

“Child Protective Services works to provide housing stability while also allowing parents to better engage in services and address the issues that brought them to the attention of child welfare. Bringing Families Home allows for more safe and timely reunification and can prevent future foster care placements, overall supporting better child welfare outcomes,” he stated.

To address the housing needs of Child Protective Services families, the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services has partnered with the County’s Department of Human Assistance along with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, and other organizations to provide families with an initial assessment, service and support to obtain housing, and short term case management once housing is located.

Families are referred to the Bringing Families Home program by their social worker. The program is voluntary, but participation in Family Reunification or family maintenance services is required for program eligibility. The program prioritizes families that are homeless, however, can serve those that are facing housing instability, which includes when a family is at imminent risk of losing their housing.

“Bringing Families Home works to address the barriers to obtaining and maintaining permanent housing for those who are homeless, at-risk of becoming homeless or are receiving Family Reunification or Family Maintenance services,” said Michelle Callejas, Sacramento County Director of Child, Family and Adult Services.

“Through this grant and partnership, we are able to help families find a house, pay up to a double deposit and provide families a rental subsidy for three months after they move in,” she added.

If your family or a family you know is receiving child welfare services and is interested in participating in the housing program, contact Sacramento County Program Planner, Niku Mohanty-Campbell or email CPSBFHHouseReferral@saccounty.net.

Bringing Families Home is one of several County programs helping families and individuals experiencing homelessness transition to permanent housing stability. Ongoing County programs include the County’s Flexible Supportive Re-Housing Program, the CalWORKS Housing Support Program as well as new programs, such as the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP), an $8 million re-housing program funded through the new State Homeless Emergency Aid Program.

Launching in May, FHP will help resolve homelessness for up to 600 households, including vulnerable seniors, those engaged with criminal justice, unsheltered individuals and families, and those staying in an emergency shelter.

For additional information on County homeless activities, visit Sacramento County’s Responding to Homelessness webpage.

 

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CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Officer James Garing and Sergeant James Evans are part of the Special Operations Unit of the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD). They recently updated the Citrus Heights City Council about the department’s efforts to provide resources to homeless persons in the city.

Because homelessness is an issue that affects the entire region, the CHPD is partnering with many agencies in the area: California Highway Patrol, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Probation, Roseville Police, Auburn Police, Lincoln Police, Rocklin Police, and Union Pacific Railroad Police.

The regional partners hold quarterly meetings to discuss the failures and successes of various strategies to address homelessness. These meetings provide an opportunity for the agencies to collaborate and find solutions to problems. Officer Garing explained that one of the failed strategies was a practice known as “re-towning,” in which an agency would pick up a homeless person and drop them off in the next city.

Officer Garing said, “This was not a solution to solve any problems and, quite frankly, it made a lot of the agencies look bad.” The regional partners have now all mutually agreed to suspend this practice and focus on providing resources to help address the underlying causes of homelessness.

“We have resources available in the area for people that are homeless,” said Officer Garing. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it. And when it comes to working with our homeless, we can provide them all the resource information, but we can’t force them to take it and we can’t force them to go to the shelters. So what we have to do is figure out ways to have continuous contact, and to find our success that way. And one of our best resources is Toni, our Navigator.”

The most successful strategy implemented by the CHPD is the Navigator Program. Toni Morgan is the Citrus Heights Navigator, and each week she goes to targeted locations with CHPD officers to meet directly with homeless persons in the city.

“Essentially, we’re bringing the resources and information to them,” said Officer Garing. “And then [Morgan] can set up the appointments and meetings and start bringing them into her program and eventually have that continuous contact.”

“We can’t force them into these programs; all we can do is encourage them to get involved,” said Officer Garing. Sometimes people accept help after the first contact, but for others it takes 10 to 20 contacts before they are willing to engage.

Officer Garing said that is why continuous contact is so important: eventually people realize that Morgan and the accompanying officers really do care and want to help them improve their living situation.

Citrus Heights was the first city in the region to implement the Navigator Program. Morgan, the original Navigator, has now trained six additional Navigators in the Sacramento area. In the first quarter of 2019, Morgan has already housed 30 people, helped 14 people get new IDs, provided 10 lawyer referrals, given out 32 bus passes, and enrolled three people into the Mather program — a 13-month job placement and living program. Morgan currently has 880 active clients.

In 2015, CHPD started the Homeless Outreach Program and Education (HOPE) Survey, which is conducted in April each year. During any contact with a homeless person, officers collect their information and give it to Morgan so she can reach out to them. Because officers are out in the field responding to a variety of calls, they have many opportunities to meet people who could benefit from the help of the Navigator Program.

When comparing HOPE Survey cards with the regional partners, the CHPD was interested to see if there was a migratory pattern of homelessness. Of the 147 survey cards collected in Citrus Heights last year, the other agencies only recognized three names. This indicates that the majority of homeless people have ties to specific communities.

Now that there more regional Navigators available, people can receive the resources they need within their own community.

 

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