West Sacramento’s ‘housing first’ pilot project wraps up

Project plagued by infestations, disorder

West Sacramento's experimental “housing first” method of addressing the large homeless encampment along the North Levee has come to an end. And just in time.

The West Sacramento City Council voted February 18 to purchase and prepare the Old Town Inn for development. Program participants had been temporarily housed at the inn while they were matched to local resources and awaited housing vouchers as part of the city's Bridge to Housing pilot program.

Residents had until 5 p.m. Friday to vacate the property at 826 West Capitol Avenue.

There's been some rough going these past few months, with a wicked bedbug and cockroach infestation, and even a suicide on campus.

Steve Kruse, who had worked as manager of the property, said he called police to prevent individuals who weren't part of the program from coming onto the property and stirring up trouble. That increased police presence meant some residents got popped for outstanding warrants when they stepped out of line otherwise.

Of the original 63 participants, 14 left the program due to criminal or behavioral issues, according to Yolo County spokeswoman Beth Gabor, and several more didn't have all their proverbial ducks in a row in order to get their vouchers before the program ended February 27.

All totaled, 38 people are getting housing vouchers, which was the goal. Most have health insurance and CalFresh, and a few even have steady employment.

The program was initially set to run 90 days with a possible 30-day extension. Residents packed their belongings into bike trailers and moved themselves out on day 109.

“It's been hell,” said participant Evelyn Lamb, “but if I get into a place, it's definitely going to be worth it.”