A Home As Navigation Housing For Homeless
As part of a plan to combat homelessness in Elk Grove, the Elk Grove City Council voted to move forward on purchasing a home for use as navigation housing for homeless families. The council meeting took place on February 14.
Several members of the community spoke out both in opposition and support of the purchase. Those who live in the neighborhood of the soon to be transitional housing expressed concern over potential crime. Furthermore, a couple of the speakers worried for the safety of their children. The fear is that crimes will occur in the neighborhood or children will be in danger.
“I am very concerned about the rhetoric that is happening around this, and I think it is a product of the lack of community engagement.” stated local resident Denessa Atiles. A few Elk Grove residents said that there was a lack transparency in the purchase of the home. Housing and Public Services Manager Sarah Bontranger addressed this concern with the City Council. Residences within 300 feet of the property are given notice after an offer on a home for the homeless is accepted.
In response to fears for neighborhood safety Atiles stated “I am that person that was in these transitional homes.” In an emotional plea to those who spoke in opposition Atiles went on to say “We are just people. It is a helping hand for people to move on to greater things.” The emotional plea of Atiles seemed to grab the attention of the City Council.
HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) , the non-profit responsible for the transitional housing, assured the City Council that residents will be vetted. All adults will need to pass background checks and drug tests. In addition, residents must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Anyone who does not adhere to a strict code of conduct can lose their residency in transitional housing. HART currently runs two other transitional homes – Grace House and Meadows House. Neither home has experienced complaints from neighbors or caused any issues with neighborhood safety.
Council Member Steve Detrick stated he would vote against the resolution. He believes the project is just putting a band aid on the homeless issue in Elk Grove. Detrick maintains that a regional effort is the best way to reach the community.
Mayor Ly clearly expressed his support with purchasing the home for transitional housing for the homeless. During deliberations Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly shared that he had grown up in government housing. He stated that he had “a little trouble with those statements in regards to ‘those people.'” Ly stated that while he welcomed and respected the input of the community “we all need a break sometime.”
Finally, the resolution passed in a 4-1 vote. Therefore, the City Manager Laura Gill will move forward with purchasing the home. It is already in escrow. More home purchases for Elk Grove’s homeless are in planning.