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 Woodland’s unhoused, both current and future through the provision of both shelter and services. The City and County, in collaboration with local non-profit Friends of the Mission, provided the funds to the build the new adult-only shelter. The City commenced construction on June 23rd with completion scheduled for November 14th, when the City will turn the keys and land over to Friends and Shelter operator Fourth & Hope. The Shelter consists of the first of three East Beamer Way developments, followed by 61 permanent supportive manufactured homes, and when funding permits, a new Walter’s House, a substance abuse treatment center. Unhoused families will “backfill” the current Downtown facility, providing desperately needed family shelter. State and private funders will provide the capital required for the individual housing.
Resident social services will remain the key to East Beamer Way’s success for those that require mental health and substance abuse assistance. Leaving the homeless on the street often results in substantial personal and property damage, illness and death. People struggling with homelessness often become frequent users of emergency departments. Housing homeless residents decreases by nearly 61% the number of visits made to emergency departments; the formerly homeless community is more receptive to interventions and social services support, as housing is healthcare.
Building and operating a shelter is not inexpensive. However, the unsheltered generate increasing, ongoing City costs for police, fire, EMT, and code compliance responses, for the County’s courts, sheriffs and health services, and for health care providers like Dignity and Sutter. They burden local businesses, residents, parks and overwhelm non-profits like Fourth & Hope. The “externalized” cost to a community may approach three times the cost of building and maintaining a shelter. Between 2007 and 2012, Santa Clara County spent $520 million a year on the county’s homeless population between including the costs of health care, jail and public benefits, according to a 2016 study, and the numbers grow.
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, East Beamer Way 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 stabilize housing."
East Beamer Way Neighborhood Campus Project
The project will include development of a neighborhood of 61 permanent supportive residences with a small community center, the Emergency Shelter, and a substance abuse treatment facility. The project would include parcelization of the existing 128-acre parcel into four separate parcels. Three parcels of approximately 8.5 acres of land for uses focused on providing services to homeless persons in the area would accommodate the housing, shelter, and facility, while the remaining parcel would remain undeveloped. All structures would be built on concrete foundations on compacted fill to raise the project’s elevation above the base flood elevation.
The design of the plan for the East Beamer Way Permanent Supportive Housing promotes tenant engagement by clustering the dwellings around a green, a garden and a small community and health center. Each dwelling, a compact independent living unit with an individual entry, will be spatially separate from a second unit in a duplex configuration with one common wall that saves land, energy and construction cost. The three open faces on each dwelling and the operable windows will allow natural ventilation and views of the common areas or beyond to the unbuilt surroundings. Fifty (50) of the single story, 61 dwellings one-bedroom units will serve single clients, those with a partner, or those with a child, and 11 two-bedroom will house families. Five of the units will provide full accessibility for those with disabilities from the street entrance to parking access.
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, provide the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of a special community.