Twenty prefabricated tiny homes will comprise Better Way, Sutter County’s planned homeless emergency shelter site on Live Oak Boulevard, and have been ordered as officials plan the facility’s opening for next month.
The units, which will each be 160 square feet, are expected to arrive and be assembled over the next few weeks. The facility will have the ability to house up to 40 homeless individuals once fully operational.
“This will be a place where people can come to help them get back on their feet,” said Chuck Smith, public information officer for Sutter County.
Smith said the plan is for the emergency shelter to open in September. The county is working on finalizing a contract with Salvation Army to manage the facility and provide food for participants. The local Salvation Army also operates The Depot homeless shelter and drug treatment program in Marysville.
“This is similar to what’s going on at 14Forward, which is an emergency shelter that allows a homeless individual to stay as long as they are working toward finding transitional housing or permanent housing, with the expected length of stay being up to 90 days,” Smith said. “…It’s an opportunity for those who are seeking to be housed to have humane shelter while they work on the issues that led them to homelessness and to get some assistance through a support system.”
The 14Forward program in Yuba County has received statewide recognition as an example of a practical emergency shelter for homeless individuals. Yuba County’s Homeless Project Manager Chaya Galicia said since the facility opened in July 2016, her team has helped a total of 82 people find permanent housing.
“It’s very exciting that Sutter County is opening a similar shelter,” Galicia said. “The need is obviously greater than the capacity right now, so there are lots of projects in the works and this is just one piece of a larger puzzle.”
Galicia said these types of facilities don’t just provide bed space to local homeless individuals but also with access to available services, like the Life Building Center in Marysville that has well over 20 agencies providing crucial services. Community support for these types of programs has grown over recent years, which is one of the contributing factors as to why the Yuba-Sutter area had fewer homeless individuals counted earlier this year compared to two years ago when a similar study was conducted.
“We are one of the few regions in the state whose Point-in-Time count reduced. As a whole, California’s homeless population grew significantly, but in Yuba-Sutter we are reducing our numbers, and it’s because we are all working together,” Galicia said. “We’ve put more focus on doing things collaboratively and I think that makes a big difference.”
Establishing a shelter in Sutter County could also benefit law enforcement in their efforts to enforce the county’s no camping ordinance that was established in 2017, though in order to do so legally the county must have adequate shelter beds. While 40 beds aren’t nearly enough to address the imbalance, it’s a step in the right direction, Smith said.
Better Way will be located behind the Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health Services building – 1965 Live Oak Blvd., Yuba City.
“There is a Better Way for those who want the help,” Smith said. “This is a Better Way for the community to help those who want it.”