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Positive Results From Homeless-To-Housing Experiment

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

A homeless man walks across the entryway to what was the Old Town Inn in West Sacramento. The inn served as temporary shelter for some of the area's homeless under a pilot program before the hotel was torn down.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

An experimental program has helped about 10 percent of the homeless in Yolo County get off the streets.

In November, Yolo County moved 65 homeless people into an old hotel in West Sacramento. Now, 40 of those people are poised to move into permanent housing or already have a place.

Karen Larsen is the Mental Health Director for Yolo County. She says nearly all of them have signed up for health insurance through the "Bridge to Housing" program.

"Three-quarters of the population we served had some behavioral health condition that was keeping them from being successful. For some of those we could help get them some counseling and get well and get employed. But, the vast majority of them are pretty seriously mentally ill."

In November, the county paid to move the 65  people into Old Town Inn on West Capitol Mall. There was no restriction on their drug use or their animals. Each person was assigned a case manager to help them find programs to address their needs.

About half of the 53 people who remained in February were approved for housing vouchers through different programs.

The participants moved out at the end of that month.  The hotel has since been demolished.

Larsen says the case workers have lost contact with six of the homeless who stayed at the hotel through February.  They will continue reaching out to the half-dozen people they still communicate with who returned to living along the banks of the Sacramento River.

"All of us, when we have to make behavior changes, we have to get to a place where we want to make them. Just because other people want it for us doesn't mean we want it for ourselves always."

Larsen says Yolo County is considering a full-time program.