East Beamer Way Shelter represents a ‘paradigm shift’ for homeless
By WOODLAND DAILY DEMOCRAT | July 1, 2020 at 4:00 a.m.
By Stephen Coyle
The East Beamer Way Emergency Shelter will be part of the East Beamer Way campus and represents a “paradigm shift” in serving Woodland’s unhoused, both current and future through the provision of both shelter and services.
The city and county, in collaboration with local nonprofit Friends of the Mission, provided the funds to the build the new adult-only shelter on the northwest intersection near County Road 102 and East Beamer Street.
The city commenced construction on June 23 with completion scheduled for Nov. 14, when the city will turn the keys and land over to Friends and Shelter operator Fourth & Hope.
The Shelter consists of the first of three East Beamer Way developments, followed by 61 permanent supportive manufactured homes, and when funding permits, a new Walter’s House, a substance abuse treatment center.
Unhoused families will “backfill” the current downtown facility (located at Fourth and Hope), providing desperately needed family shelter. State and private funders will provide the capital required for individual housing.
Resident social services will remain the key to East Beamer Way’s success for those that require mental health and substance abuse assistance.
Leaving the homeless on the street often results in substantial personal and property damage, illness and death. People struggling with homelessness often become frequent users of emergency departments. Housing homeless residents decreases by nearly 61% the number of visits made to emergency departments; the formerly homeless community is more receptive to interventions and social services support, as housing is healthcare.
Building and operating a shelter is not inexpensive. However, the unsheltered generate increasing, ongoing city costs for police, fire, EMT, and code compliance responses, for the county’s courts, sheriffs and health services, and for health care providers like Dignity and Sutter.
They burden local businesses, residents, parks and overwhelm nonprofits like Fourth & Hope.
The “externalized” cost to a community may approach three times the cost of building and maintaining a shelter. Between 2007 and 2012, Santa Clara County spent $520 million a year on the county’s homeless population between including the costs of health care, jail and public benefits, according to a 2016 study, and the numbers grow.
Broward Builders, Inc., a General Contracting firm, builder of the Woodland Senior and Community Center, and based in Woodland for over 30 years, partnered with the city to construct the facility.
With a development team led by city staff, East Beamer Way will improve the quality of life for everyone in our community. Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Gary Sandy said, “The new shelter will enable the county to provide centralized services directly to the homeless in a more efficient and effective manner. This will improve our ability to transition the homeless from the streets and into stabilize housing.”
Stephen Coyle is Woodland’s deputy community development director.