Status Check: Common Cents

Sacramento Steps Forward pilot program finds initial success

Back Update Nov 2, 2015 By Kelly Higdon

Last January we reported on Sacramento Steps Forward, the region’s lead agency coordinating efforts to address homelessness, and their Common Cents Program, which is aimed at connecting Sacramento’s homeless to the appropriate housing services (“Fight of the Navigators,” by Allison Joy).

In January, Common Cents launched a common assessment software tool that outreach workers can enter data into regarding the homeless population they encounter. Since it’s accessible to all SSF providers, outreach workers can see what resources are available where, in real time, to find the best match for each client’s specific housing needs. 

Since January, SSF’s director of external affairs Maya Wallace says navigators have assessed 1,100 chronically homeless individuals. From that list, they’ve identified 570 that are an appropriate match for permanent supportive housing. Of those assessed, 61 have been placed to date and SSF is in the process of implementing 120 additional units of permanent supportive housing. 

“While there’s still plenty more to be done, making sure that the most vulnerable are placed in permanent-level housing helps ensure that we are reducing homelessness overall in the county,” Wallace says. “Nationally, the success rate for maintaining chronically homeless people in this type of supportive housing is somewhere between 85 and 90 percent.”

They have also increased the number of interim housing units from 20 to 25, with the help of Sacramento Self Help Housing. In addition, the program has broadened its focus from chronically homeless individuals to include couples and families as well. 

SSF has also made significant progress in efforts to house all veterans by the end of 2015. According to the 2015 Homeless Count, roughly 300 veterans are homeless on any given night in Sacramento County. To serve all veterans who are or will become homeless, SSF needs to find homes for 668 by the end of this year. “We’re going to make a push to reach zero,” Wallace says. 

As of September 30, SSF had housed almost 400 veterans and are now currently working to house 80 per month to assure they reach their target by year’s end. SSF recently hired a landlord liaison to develop relationships with property owners in the area to assist with this process.

Editor’s Note 11/3/15: Since this article’s print run, we have updated the numbers regarding progress to house veterans.