Funded by Measure E money, Old Town-Historic Downtown Elk Grove homeless shelter opening Nov. 1

One of the most immediate effects of the voter-approved Measure E $23 million annual sales tax hike is the opening of Elk Grove's first semi-permanent homeless shelter. At their recent meeting, the Elk Grove City Council unanimously approved the $600,000+ expenditure.

A presentation by Elk Grove's housing manager, Sarah Bontrager, at the September 27 city council meeting highlighted the operation and funding for the facility. The homeless shelter will operate from November 1 through March 31 at the city-owned former Rite Aid drugstore on Elk Grove Blvd and Waterman Road in Old Town-Historic Downtown Elk Grove.  

Dubbed the Enhanced Winter Sanctuary, the program is an expansion of the Elk Grove HART Sanctuary program that started in 2013 but ended in 2020 with COVID-19. Additionally, under state mandate, Elk Grove operated warming centers at various facilities when the temperature dropped to freezing.

"We know addressing homelessness is a huge priority for our community," Bontrager told the mayor and city council. She added that the homelessness session was the best attended at Measure E workshops conducted earlier this year.

The city selected Roseville-based The Gathering Inn through a competitive bidding process, which will staff the facility with 15 full-time employees. Priority is given to people identified as living in their vehicles or outdoors.

Bontrager noted that some identified individuals are shift workers at Apple Inc. Elk Grove facility. To facilitate them and others, the facility will operate around the clock. 

Elk Grove Police Chief Bobby Davis also spoke during the hearing, noting the police department will initiate measures to ensure safety. Among the measures implemented are 24 video surveillance of the shelter.  

"To have our folks there is extremely important, and it does provide a level of comfort and safety for the community," Davis said. 

While many remarks during public comment supported the plan, there were opponents. One such opponent was Elk Grove resident Robert Lindner, who identified himself as a retired police officer.

"I'm not against homeless people, I'm against the problems that arise from services that treat homeless people," he said, "Just look at downtown Sacramento. If you build it, they will come."

See the video below for Lindner's entire commentary. 

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