The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved over $1,000,000 in General Fund dollars to preserve housing supports for individuals currently sheltered in the County’s Scattered-Site Shelter Program at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The Board also approved a redirect up to an additional $700,000 to preserve housing for households currently housed in the County’s Flexible Housing Pool (FHP) program, for a total of $1,700,000.
These two programs have been funded by the County, but operated by Sacramento Self-Help Housing (SSHH). SSHH is a local, community-based nonprofit that serves people experiencing homelessness through outreach services, shelter, supportive services, and permanent housing. As one of their main services, SSHH leases or facilitates direct leases with landlords of properties on the open market to provide ‘scattered site’ housing and sheltering for people experiencing homelessness.
County staff were made aware of significant financial issues at SSHH that led to landlords not being paid in full for rent, in both the housing and sheltering programs, which puts program participants at risk of losing their housing or shelter. County staff have been working in coordination with SSHH staff to improve their processes, invoicing, landlord relations and audited their financial practices. In spite of this work, rents went unpaid and SSHH invoiced the County for funds they have not paid landlords and for costs they have yet to incur.
The County’s number one priority is keeping folks housed or sheltered, despite the significant issues the unpaid rents caused with the landlords.
SSHH was a provider of Property Related Tenant Services (PRTS) as part of the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP) program.
In the spring of 2022, SSHH reported funding shortfalls in their PRTS contracts under the FHP program to County staff, which was scheduled to end June 30, 2022. County staff worked with SSHH to improve their invoicing processes such that rental payments to landlords would not be delayed. However, SSHH continued to fall behind in payments to landlords, and in August of 2022, the Department of Human Assistance (DHA) augmented SSHH’s budget by $370,000 and extended their contract through the end of 2022 to stabilize the clients in rental units.
However, the back rent owed and damage assessments required up to an additional $700,000 to cover, which was approved by the Board yesterday.
The extended contract for PRTS with SSHH expired on December 31, 2022 and the County hired a new provider, through the competitive bid process, for both PRTS and the Intensive Case Management Services. Consumer Self-Help Center (CSHC) took over the 38 clients and units in the PRTS program and has been working with both tenants and landlords for nearly three months.
Sacramento Self-Help Housing has also been experiencing financial issues with its County-funded scattered-site shelter program. This shelter model, which master-leases single-family homes, provides a 24/7 on-site house monitor and can shelter up to five unhoused individuals at one time, has historically been successful in transitioning people off the streets and into more stable housing situations. The intent of this model is a short stay in the shelter home and a more seamless move into traditional or supportive housing.
This program has been funded for a capacity up to 160 beds at any given time, but County staff learned that there were unpaid rental balances to landlords and that the program had not been working at capacity for some time. There are currently 80-90 clients in this shelter program.
In addition to the Board’s action to preserve housing, the County has conducted a thorough audit of SSHH’s financial management and cash flow issues and the results of that audit will be made public in the coming weeks. The County is also aware that SSHH holds contracts for similar services with other jurisdictions and organizations that are experiencing similar issues with SSHH and are also dealing with funding shortfalls. The County is working in partnership with those jurisdictions and organizations to help find a resolution that will protect their clients and units.
Due to the overwhelming and ongoing issues with SSHH’s management of both these programs, the County has opted to let their contracts expire and move forward with alternative providers. CSHC has already begun its work and the County is in final talks with another provider that will take over the scattered-site sheltering program. Once that provider is under contract, the County will release more information and work directly with both the new provider and SSHH to transition all units and clients over.