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County and City Report Progress on Emergency Homeless Efforts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jason Hoppin, County of Santa Cruz, 831.454.3401
Eileen Cross, City of Santa Cruz Community Relations, 831.676.7090
COUNTY AND CITY REPORT PROGRESS ON EMERGENCY HOMELESS EFFORTS
Santa Cruz (February 21, 2019) – The County and City of Santa Cruz have embarked on a joint emergency effort to address the local homelessness crisis. The plan includes an increase in health and safety measures at the Gateway-area unsanctioned encampment and an immediate increase in emergency shelter beds to accommodate the eventual March 15 closure of the Gateway encampment to protect public health and safety. Since the February 12 approval of the plan, the County and City have made the following progress:
- An additional 40 shelter beds for families with children, women, and disabled persons opened at the Salvation Army Community Center on Laurel Street.
- Extensive outreach at the Gateway homeless encampment to advise residents of the March 15 closure and convey shelter options. Eighteen Gateway residents accepted vouchers to move into existing shelter at the VFW Post 5888 in Live Oak.
- Initiated site planning for a potential sanctioned camp at 1220 River St., including identification of potential camp operators.
- Increased secured storage capacity for possessions of homeless persons.
- Increased security at Gateway Shopping Center to 24/7 coverage. SCPD mobile command unit has been stationed on the property.
- Relocated fencing to increase the buffer zone along the San Lorenzo River levee pathway.
- County and City staff continue to review additional spaces for indoor shelter, safe camping, and safe parking program.
County and City staff have collaborated on outreach and communications with the homeless community, as well as with nearby neighborhoods and other stakeholders. The City continues to deploy resources for waste removal, hygiene stations, camp and neighborhood security patrols, while the County continues to provide health and safety monitoring and resources.
The Santa Cruz City Council will review progress made towards alternative camping sites to the Gateway encampment at their meeting on February 26 prior to giving final approval for the Gateway camp closure.