Settlement leads to pilot program in search of solutions

Auburn, Calif. – The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted this past Tuesday to amend an agreement with First Step Communities to authorize spending up to $1.088 million to provide onsite, 24/7 management of a mobile temporary shelter in Auburn through June 30, 2023.

The mobile temporary shelter will be located in the Placer County Government Center and consist of approximately 50 tents with cots and basic bedding. The shelter will also provide showers, toilets, trash service, and access to drinking water.

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First Step Communities

First Step Communities is a nonprofit organization based in Sacramento with extensive experience operating similar tent shelters. The contract would require 24/7 on-site shelter supervision and basic case management services.

The mobile temporary shelter will be located next to 11517 F Avenue and adjoin a county building, which can act as a warming and cooling center during extreme weather conditions. The facility will also be used by First Step Communities and county staff to provide case management and supportive services.

An Opportunity

“We intend to have boots on the ground at the shelter to make sure contact is made every day to build relationships with campers and encourage them to participate in our programs and services,” said Chief Probation Officer Marshall Hopper. “Our approach is to build trust through a consistent effort and ensure accountability. Our probation officers are experienced with assisting unhoused individuals and understand the importance of using a balanced approach.”

Program Goal

The goal of the program is to provide temporary shelter to those experiencing homelessness, to understand the circumstances that led to their homelessness and to help them find a better path in the future. Program participants will be expected to abide by a basic code of conduct to promote the health and safety of participants and neighbors nearby. While drug testing will not be required, alcohol, drugs, and weapons will not be allowed on the premises.

“I’m supportive of the concept of a low-barrier shelter that has clear rules individuals must follow,” said District 2 Supervisor Shanti Landon. “I see this as an opportunity for a safer option than what currently exists for both the unhoused and the neighbors nearby, as this facility will have 24-hour supervision and crime will not be tolerated.”

Part of settlement

The creation of the mobile temporary shelter is a component of a settlement agreement with the Law Office of Mark E. Merin, which filed a class claim on behalf of several unhoused individuals, alleging property loss during the clearing of homeless encampments on county property in the spring of 2022. The vendor contract is not required under the settlement. If all goes as planned, the shelter will open in mid-February.

“This six-month pilot project is an opportunity for the county to address one aspect of homelessness and learn what might work long-term,” said District 1 Supervisor Bonnie Gore. “We can make adjustments and changes as we pursue an effective solution.”

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