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Homeless Triage Shelters

The City of Sacramento has been engaged in innovative solutions to bring services and housing to those most in need, and to address the community impacts of unsheltered homelessness. While long term solutions are developed, there is a need for additional emergency shelter capacity to ensure that people can be safely sheltered and that the impacts on the community are lessened.

As of the 2017 homeless point-in-time count, it is estimated that at least 2,052 people sleep unsheltered every night in Sacramento. On September 12, the City Council committed to opening up to 200 emergency shelter beds over the winter months and to securing a location to open a permanent “triage” shelter to serve up to 200 people nightly by the summer of 2018.


The winter shelter is up and running and bringing services to those most in need from December through March. For more information about the shelter, access, amenities, and how you can help, see the 2017 Winter Shelter Triage Flyer. Also, view the Winter Triage Shelter City Express for visuals and other information.

Propose Winter and Triage Shelter


Winter Triage Shelter

Permanent Triage Shelter

Proposed Location

Railroad Drive


Projected Open Date

December 2017

Summer 2018

Projected Close Date

March 31, 2018


On-Site, Wrap Around Services



Access Process

Via outreach & referral

Via outreach & referral

Walk-Up Referrals Allowed?



Full Service Shelter Facilities

Proposed portable restrooms and showers

Constructed restrooms, shower and laundry

Operational Funding

City General Funds

City General Funds

Guest Profile

Adults (18+)

Adults (18+)

Guest Priority

Unsheltered homeless in immediate neighborhood(s)

Unsheltered homeless in immediate neighborhood(s)

Children Allowed?



Pets Allowed?



Possessions Allowed?



Good Neighbor Requirements?



24/7 Presence?

Yes – 24/7 staffing, security and designated City contact

Yes – 24/7 staffing, security and designated City contact

Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. Where is the City looking to site proposed triage shelters?
Recognizing that homelessness impacts every community, the City is looking for sites throughout the City to establish triage shelters. Currently, the City is actively pursuing a short-term lease for a winter triage shelter on Railroad Drive and the purchase of a site at Evergreen and Arden for the potential development of a permanent triage shelter.
Q2. Why did the City select these particular sites?
The City is actively looking for sites throughout the City, responding to the impacts of unsheltered homelessness that are felt in all communities. The Railroad site was considered because there are already substantial numbers of people camping in the immediate area and the businesses report numerous “feedings” on the street. By offering an indoor location and targeting those currently camping in the immediate area, the City hopes the reduce the impact on the community. Similarly, the Evergreen/Arden site is in an area already impacted by unsheltered homelessness. By offering an indoor location, the City intends to positively impact the surrounding community.
Q3. What is the difference between the proposed winter triage shelter at Railroad Drive and the proposed permanent triage shelter at Evergreen and Arden?

While the operations for the two sites are intended to be very similar (see “Service” section below), there are some differences between the two:

  • The two proposed locations – Railroad and Evergreen – will never be open at the same time.
  • The Railroad site is available only for the Winter of 2017/18, and, therefore, will definitively close by the Spring of 2018 and never re-open as a shelter. The Evergreen/Arden site is proposed to be operated as a year-round triage shelter.
Q4. What other locations is the City looking to for additional triage shelters?

On March 21, 2017, as part of a presentation from District 2 (D2) staff, the City’s Homeless Services Coordinator brought a list of seven potential City or School District owned sites that the City was exploring. Of that list, four remain, and the City is working with the owners/operators to more fully explore the opportunity to utilize the following locations for triage shelters:

  • Offices at Fullertown Pool Facility
  • Meadowview Service Center
  • Florin Adult Education Center
  • CB Wire Elementary School

In addition to these sites, staff is working with all Council district offices to identify additional locations. No decisions regarding these sites have been made at this time, and would still require identification of funding and service operators to run these additional winter shelters.

Q5. How is the City supporting opportunities for shelters and services in other parts of the City and County?
The proposed winter triage shelter will be a part of a broader, community-wide strategy to expand shelters during the winter months. Specifically, the County will be operating the Winter Sanctuary program, which is a roving shelter program working with faith communities throughout the City and County to shelter up to 100 people a night. In addition, many of the permanent shelters, including the Union Gospel Mission (located in D3), Salvation Army (D3) and Next Move (County) typically expand their capacity during the winter months.
Q6. Will the proposed sites provide on-site restrooms, showers and laundry facilities for the guests?

The proposed winter triage shelter site will provide on-site restrooms using portable units, and the City is researching opportunities to provide on-site mobile showers. If the City cannot secure a mobile shower unit, the City will partner with the operator and Loaves and Fishes to allow guests to use their shower facilities. The operator will establish a shower schedule and provide transportation to and from the triage shelter site to prevent any foot traffic in the surrounding neighborhood and will secure laundry services as needed.

For the proposed permanent triage shelter location, the City will be working with a design team to retro-fit the Evergreen/Arden site to function as a full-service triage shelter. This will include adding restrooms, showers and laundry facilities on-site.


Q7. What is the difference between a triage shelter and an emergency homeless shelter?

Many of the existing emergency homeless shelters provide safety, security, food and some light level of services. While these shelters play a critical role in the homeless continuum of care, they often do not have the funding or support to offer a full array of triage services. A triage shelter is generally characterized by the following:

  • Open and staffed 24/7;
  • Allowing (and encouraging) guests who typically do not or cannot access traditional shelters: 
    • Guests with pets, partners and/or possessions;
    • Guests presenting with mental health or addiction issues;
    • Guests who have been banned from traditional shelters;
  • Providing on-site wrap around services by professional staff;
  • Not exiting people to the streets; allowing them to stay until a permanent housing opportunity has been identified.
Q8. Who will be operating the shelters?
The City will seek a partnership from an experienced shelter operator via a public bid process. For the proposed winter triage shelter, the City released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on September 27th, with responses due October 5th. For the permanent triage shelter(s), the City will similarly seek a partner through a public procurement process. Final approval of the operator (via a funding agreement) will be considered by the City Council in open session.
Q9. Who will be staying at the shelters?
The proposed triage shelter(s) will serve adults experiencing homelessness and in need of temporary shelter. No children will be served at the proposed triage shelter(s). The City will prioritize those currently living unsheltered in the immediate vicinity of the shelter(s) to help reduce the impact of unsheltered homelessness in the community hosting the shelter(s).
Q10. How will the City identify and transport guests to the shelters?

The City will work with the selected operator(s) to begin to identify potential guests up to two weeks prior to the opening of the shelter(s). The identification will focus first of people currently living unsheltered in the immediate vicinity of the shelter(s) both through on the ground outreach and by using existing outreach data from the Sacramento Police Department, Fire Department, Sacramento Steps Forward, and from the local Property and Business Improvement Districts (“PBIDs”). This outreach will be on-going, as the intent of the shelter(s) is to offer an indoor alternative and respite to communities currently impacted by unsheltered homelessness.

While priority will be for people currently unsheltered in the immediate area, the shelter(s) will also serve others identified throughout the community, again working through existing outreach and data sources.

Regardless of where the guests are identified, the operator will provide appropriate transportation to the shelter(s). It is anticipated that occupancy of the shelters will be slowly “ramped up” (i.e.,. on day one, there will not be 300 people brought to the site), so that the operator will be able to both coordinate transportation and address any logistical challenges before the site(s) are fully occupied.

Q11. How will the City address access to the shelters, to ensure that people do not “queue up” in front of the location(s)?
Access to the proposed triage shelter(s), unlike traditional emergency shelters, are not “walk up.” Guests will be invited to the shelter(s) via outreach. However, recognizing that some people may expect a more traditional “walk up” access, the operator will ensure that the on-site staff are available to clearly communicate that any people loitering or queuing at the site will not be invited in. Additionally, the shelters will include security, who will regularly patrol the immediate surrounding areas to ensure that people are not queuing near the site(s).
Q12. Can you describe the types of services that the City expects to offer at the shelters?

At the permanent triage shelter(s), the City intends to offer:

  • 24/7 professional staffing;
  • Care coordination (medical, social and behavioral health); 
  • Housing search and support;
  • Employment assistance and training;
  • Veterinary care. 

The proposed winter triage shelter will incorporate many of these same components, relying on a partnership with the Whole Person Care program. The City also has proposed to pilot a homeless employment program out of the winter triage shelter, with a possibility of extending this to the permanent triage shelter if it proves successful.

Q13. How long will guests be allowed to stay at the shelter(s)?
The triage shelters will have a goal of moving people out of homelessness and into housing within 90 days. However, people will not be “kicked out” at the end of 90 days. The City will hold itself and the partner operator accountable for ensuring that the majority of people exiting the triage shelter(s) exit to a permanent housing destination and not back onto the streets.
Q14. What animal care services will be provided at the shelter(s)?
Both triage shelters will be unique in that people will be allowed to enter with their pet(s). Most shelters in Sacramento do not allow pets, and this is a big barrier to people’s ability/willingness to enter shelters. In addition to allowing pets on site, the City will partner with our outreach veterinarian (via the Impact Team) and Front Street shelter to ensure that pets receive vaccinations, licensing, medical care, and food.
Q15. What happens when guests leave the shelter(s), either on their own or if asked to leave by the operator?

In the case when a person leaves on their own, the operator will be responsible for arranging transportation, either by taxi or by a shuttle. It is not expected that there will be people leaving in mass, but the operator will be required to have a plan to minimize the impact of any people choosing to leave.

In the case when a person is asked to leave, it will only be in limited circumstances, and the operator will have an exit plan for that guest. Because the triage shelter(s) are low barrier, the circumstances in which a person might be asked to leave include:

  • Violence on-site against another guest or staff, in which case police would be engaged;
  • Severe intoxication, in which case the operator would coordinate with the City-funded detox shelter until the guest could return.

In most cases, a guest who chooses to leave or is asked to leave may be allowed back on-site after resolving any issues that lead to their departure., The operator will notify the City of any guests who have left such that outreach and engagement partners can actively continue to engage with them to either return to the triage shelter or secure an alternate shelter or housing location.

Q16. For the winter triage shelter, what happens to the remaining guests when the season ends?
The goal of the proposed winter triage shelter is to exit people from the shelter to permanent housing. However, at the end of the winter, should there still be people remaining without a permanent housing opportunity, the operator and City will work to identify other temporary shelter options. The operator will start on day one of the shelter identifying housing options, and will progressively limit new entries towards the end of the winter.

Relationship with Community

Q17. How will the City engage with and communicate with the surrounding community during the operations of the shelters?
The City will have a single point of contact at the City and with the operator to be responsive to community concerns. Additionally, the City will work with the operator on collecting data on outreach as well as services offered in the shelter to report out publicly.
Q18. How will the City ensure that the community is not negatively impacted by the shelters?
The City and operator will do concerted and on-going outreach to people currently living unsheltered in the community, to offer them space in the shelter. As the outreach workers move encampments, City public works will follow behind with clean-up of any abandoned camp sites. There will also be 24/7 staffing available to assist in any de-escalation of mental health or other behavior issues on site and security patrols in the immediate surrounding areas. As needed, the City will work with the PBIDs and community groups to enhance community clean up and security resources.
Q19. How will the City be measuring the outcomes and impacts of the shelters?
The City intends to measure both the impacts of the shelters on the guests as well as the impact to the community. For the guests, we will measure and report on the guest’s history of homelessness before entering the shelter, housing situation at exit, and services the guest accessed. For the community, the City will work with the police, 311, and local PBIDs to measure calls for service before the shelters began operation and during shelter operations. The City will also continually engage the community to measure the more subjective outputs of the shelter in terms of the experience of surrounding neighbors and businesses.
Q20. Will the City obtain a conditional use permit (CUP) to operate the shelters?
No. The City is not required to obtain a conditional use permit for its own projects. However, all the other approvals – lease arrangements, purchase and sale agreement, and on-going funding arrangements – are subject to Council approval and will be considered at publicly noticed Council meetings.
Q21. What approvals will the shelters require and how can the community engage to provide input on them?

The proposed winter triage shelter will require a lease between the property owner and the City as well as a funding agreement with the selected operator(s). These items will be considered at an open session of the City Council, and the public is welcome to engage in that process. Currently, these items are planned to be heard at the October 24th City Council meeting.

The proposed permanent triage shelter will require many layers of approval. First, the Council will need to approve, in open session, the purchase and sale agreement for the site. Once the purchase is complete, the City will need to engage in a contract for a design/build team to complete the improvements to the site. That agreement will also need to be considered in open session of the City Council. Finally, an operator for this site will need to be selected through a public procurement process, and the funding agreement for that operator will need to be considered at an open session of the City Council.

Timing and Costs

Q22. When does the City anticipate opening the proposed winter triage shelter?
The proposed winter triage shelter is scheduled to open the first week of December, no later than December 15, 2017.
Q23. When does the City anticipate opening the proposed permanent triage shelter?
The proposed permanent triage shelter at Evergreen/Arden will not open until after the winter triage shelter is closed. Once the City has closed on the purchase and completed a full assessment of the property condition, we will be able to better ascertain the scope and time needed for rehabilitation.
Q24. If the City is able to secure additional sites, when will these shelters open?
The City is aggressively exploring other sites, with a preference for sites that need little rehabilitation. The timing for a site to open will depend primarily on the particular site(s) found, and the current condition of the site(s).
Q25. What is the total estimated cost for the proposed winter triage shelter?
Based on costs to operate other shelters, the City estimates the cost for a 300-bed winter shelter to be between $750,000 and $1,000,000. The City will work with the selected operator(s) to find the most cost-efficient solution, while still maintaining a level of service to ensure that guests are helped out of homelessness.
Q26. What is the total estimated cost for the proposed permanent triage shelter?
The cost for the rehabilitation of the Evergreen/Arden site is not yet known, as the City has not completed a full site assessment. However, based on costs of other 24/7 triage shelters, the City estimates that operations for a full-service triage shelter for up to 200 people could cost between $3 million and $4 million annually.
Q27. Has the City identified funding for the shelter(s), and, if so, is the funding being diverted from other City services?
The City Council transferred $2.9 million from year end revenues from the FY2015/16 budget towards homeless housing initiatives. These funds were not diverted from any existing City services. This funding is anticipated to support the operations of the winter triage shelter as well as the purchase and rehabilitation of the permanent triage shelter at Evergreen/Arden. The City Council will need to identify an on-going source of funding for the operations of the permanent triage shelter.
Q28. Can the City’s new Whole Person Care pilot program provide funding to support the operations of the proposed triage shelter(s)?
The $64 million Whole Person Care (WPC) program cannot pay for any operations or capital costs for the triage shelters. However, WPC services, including outreach, engagement, care coordination, and housing support can and will support guests in the triage shelters.