The Yolo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved nearly $400,000 on Tuesday for a pilot Davis Downtown Streets Team.
The allocation of county American Rescue Plan funds matches the appropriation made by the Davis City Council last week and will extend the pilot program from one year to two.
A Downtown Streets Team has been a priority for the Davis Downtown Business Association as it serves multiple purposes, from the short term (beautifying downtown) to the long term (addressing homelessness).
The program, currently operating in 16 cities in Northern and Central California, utilizes a volunteer work model under which teams of unhoused residents clean up high visibility areas of downtown and, in exchange, receive case management, employment services and a basic needs stipend.
In a letter urging approval of funding for the program, DDBA executive director Brett Maresca said a Downtown Streets Team will provide solutions to many of DDBA members’ top concerns, including safety, crime and cleanliness.
“In addition to assisting in mitigating concerns of business owners, property owners and guests of the downtown,” Maresca said, “Streets Team will play a critical role in life management and sustainment for our unhoused community members.
“Streets Team will supply basic needs stipends, in the form of gift cards, to unhoused individuals who would clean the downtown and work on simple beautification projects. The gift cards will be purchased from our community’s businesses, therefore boosting our local economy.”
Meanwhile, streets team staff will provide case management services to individuals in the program and work with local organizations to address needs ranging from food and shelter to medical services, substance abuse assistance, veterinarians for pets, work readiness and navigation of the criminal justice system.
“Furthermore,” said Maresca, “the program aims at reducing the stigma surrounding homelessness, while also assisting the unhoused to feel a sense of ownership and community over where they reside.”
In recommending Board of Supervisors approval of the $398,000 allocation on Tuesday, Ian Evans, the county’s Adult & Aging Branch director, said, “We’ve seen great success with this program in West Sacramento and this is an opportunity to expand this program to another city.”
Calling in during public comment to urge board approval was Davis Mayor Lucas Frerichs, who said, “it’s been a real priority for our community.”
“We’ve seen it be successful in West Sacramento and other communities in Northern California and I think it would be a really fantastic use of ARP dollars,” Frerichs said. “Having the ability for folks to have opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the community would be really helpful.”
The Board of Supervisors ultimately voted unanimously to appropriate funds for the streets team, with Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis saying, “I think that’s going to be an excellent approach to homelessness in the city of Davis and will help our citizens and local businesses quite a bit.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.