East Beamer Way Emergency Shelter and Neighborhood Campus Project
The Emergency Shelter
The Shelter, part of the East Beamer Way campus, represents a “paradigm shift” in serving people experiencing homelessness through the provision of both shelter and services. The City and County, in collaboration with local nonprofit Friends of the Mission, provided the funds to the build the new adult-only shelter. The City commenced construction in June 2020 and the Shelter was occupied on January 4, 2021 when the City turned the keys and land over to Friends of the Mission and shelter operator Fourth & Hope. The first of three East Beamer Way developments, the Shelter will be followed by 61 permanent supportive manufactured homes and a new Walter's House substance use treatment center when funding permits. Unhoused families will “backfill” the current Downtown facility, providing desperately needed family shelter here in Yolo County.
Resident social services will remain the key to East Beamer Way’s success, supporting those in need of mental health and substance use assistance. Leaving unhoused individuals on the street often results in substantial personal and property damage, illness, and death. People struggling with homelessness frequently use emergency departments and other critical services. Housing those experiencing homelessness decreases number of visits made to emergency departments by more than 50%. In addition, recently unhoused individuals who receive shelter like that at East Beamer are more receptive to interventions and social services support, as housing is healthcare.
Building and operating a shelter is not inexpensive. However, the unsheltered population generates increasing and ongoing City costs for police, fire, EMT, and code compliance responses, as well as for the County’s courts, sheriffs and health services, and for local health care providers. People experiencing homelessness burden local businesses, residents, parks and overwhelm non-profits like Fourth & Hope. In fact, the “externalized” cost to a community may approach three times the cost of building and maintaining a shelter. For example, Santa Clara County spent $520 million a year on the county’s unhoused population, including the costs of health care, jail and public benefits, between 2007 and 2012.
Broward Builders, Inc., a General Contracting firm, builder of the Woodland Senior and Community Center, and based in Woodland for over 30 years, partnered with the City to construct the facility. With a development team led by City staff, the East Beamer Way project will improve the quality of life for everyone in our community. Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Gary Sandy said, “The new shelter will enable the county to provide centralized services directly to the homeless in a more efficient and effective manner. This will improve our ability to transition the homeless from the streets and into stable housing."
East Beamer Way Neighborhood Campus Project & Permanent Supportive Housing
In addition to the Emergency Shelter, the East Beamer project will also include the development of a neighborhood of 61 permanent supportive residences with a small community center and a substance use treatment facility. The project will include parcelization of the existing 128-acre parcel into four parcels. Three parcels of approximately 8.5 acres each will be used to provide services while the remaining City parcel will stay undeveloped. The full campus will consist of the Emergency Shelter, Walter’s House, a substance abuse treatment facility, and a neighborhood of 61 permanent supportive residences that will provide residents the necessary time and support services to transition into community housing. All structures will be built on concrete foundations on compacted fill to raise the project’s elevation above the base flood elevation.
The site plan for the East Beamer Way Permanent Supportive Housing promotes resident engagement by clustering the dwellings around a green, a garden, and a small community and health center. Each duplex dwelling consists of two compact, independent living units with individual entries and one common wall which saves land, energy, and construction costs. The three open faces on each dwelling and operable windows will allow natural ventilation and views of the common areas or beyond to the unbuilt surroundings. 50 of the 61 dwellings will be one-bedroom units to serve single clients or those with a partner or with a child, and 11 two-bedroom units will house families. Five of the units will provide full accessibility for those with disabilities, from the street entrance to parking access. Friends of the Mission will own, centrally direct, and manage all units, their utilities, and resident support services in order to simplify resident responsibilities and promote wellbeing.
Both the design of the units and the site balance the benefits of proximity and social distancing to achieve a sense of place where residents can choose when and where to socialize. The green, a place to sit or lounge, or the garden, where residents can collaborate on planting and cultivating, together provide the opportunity to strengthen bonds within a supportive and welcoming community.