1. What is the City of Vallejo doing to address the growing homeless population in our community?
The City of Vallejo is working on three upcoming projects to help address homelessness. The Blue Oak Landing Project and Broadway Project will be bringing over 120 units to Vallejo for those experiencing homelessness. These are permanent supportive housing units that will open in 2023. Additionally, the City of Vallejo is working on the Vallejo Homeless Navigation Center, which is tentatively scheduled to open in the summer of 2024. The Navigation Center will be a 125-bed center, which will provide emergency housing for those experiencing homelessness and provide wrap-around services to those staying there. Moreover, the City of Vallejo continues to apply for grants and other funding sources, and to create partnerships to bring more resources to support people who are unhoused.
2. Why are we seeing more homeless people in our community?
According to the 2022 Solano County Point-in-Time Count, there were 1,179 people living in shelters or on the streets in Solano County, 454 which live in Vallejo. Seventy-three percent were experiencing homelessness for less than a year at the time of the count. Given the complex nature of collecting data among people who are unhoused, these numbers may be underestimated.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons why homelessness has become more prominent in recent years. However, the 2022 Point-in-Time data highlights that the primary events that led to homelessness among survey respondents include: lost job/reduced work hours (15%), eviction (12%), physical or mental health related (12%), divorce/break up (7%), asked to leave by a friend/family (6%) and alcohol or drug use (6%). Additionally, 37% of survey respondents reported having at least one disabling condition, such as a developmental disability, HIV/AIDS, or a long-term physical or mental impairment that impacts a person’s ability to live independently. For more information on the 2022 Solano County Point-in-Time Count you can visit: http://www.housingfirstsolano.org/hic-pit-count.html
3. What is being done about encampments on public property?
The City Manager’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office, Public Works, Code Enforcement, and Vallejo Police Department are conducting targeted monthly cleanups for each City section. Based on reported SeeClickFix complaints, staff have organized the City into 12 sections and each month a section will be targeted to cleanup homeless encampments (cleanups will not include removal of individuals, unless there is available shelter space), remove abandoned/illegally parked vehicles, and remove dumped items. In addition, Public Works provides weekly and bi-weekly trash service for various homeless encampments in the City.
4. What can be done about encampments on private property?
Encampments on private property are referred to the City’s Code Enforcement division and require cooperation from the property owner to resolve. Private property owners are responsible for items dumped on private property and securing their property to ensure that people do not trespass. You can report issues through SeeClickFix.
5. What are the legal constraints to the City’s ability to address encampments?
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in Martin v. Boise generally requires that shelter be available before a municipality can enforce anti-camping ordinances that prohibit sleeping or camping in public spaces. In Martin v. Boise, the Ninth Circuit found "the cruel and unusual punishments clause of the Eight Amendment precluded the enforcement of a statute prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to alternative shelter". The Ninth Circuit stated, “[s]o long as there is a greater number of homeless individuals in (a jurisdiction) than the number of available beds (in shelters), the jurisdiction cannot prosecute homeless individuals for involuntarily sitting, lying, and sleeping in public . . . . [A]s long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property . . . .” Unfortunately, there are currently more people who are experiencing homeless than there are available shelter beds in Vallejo.
6. Why are Extreme Weather Centers (Warming or Cooling Centers) not open every day?
The goal of the Extreme Weather Center(s) are to get people out of extreme weather elements when the City of Vallejo experiences an Extreme Weather Event, as defined by the National Weather Service. The City of Vallejo has a policy that outlines the weather conditions that prompt an opening. The location and time of the centers are based on weather conditions and space availability. The City will publicize the opening of Warming and Cooling Center once an opening is established.
7. How can we report issues with homeless encampments?
Individuals can report encampments or issue areas through SeeClickFix. Depending on where the encampment is located (private vs. public property) there are certain limitations on what can be done to address the concern. Once reported, the City will coordinate a response to address the area.