SRCEH Open Letter to City Council, Board of Supervisors and Community:
Homeless "Service Resistant," Adverse Childhood Experiences &
Trauma-Informed Approach: Analysis and Recommendations
Background: At least two city councilmembers at the January 5, 2021 discussion of agenda item #14, Master Siting, Operations, Programmatic and Financing Plan to Address Homelessness, referred to people experiencing homelessness in our community as "service resistant," i.e., turning down offers of shelter, housing, mental health and substance use services, usually from law enforcement and other outreach workers.
It would appear that elected officials, as well as many community members, take this "resistance" at face value, and/or make uninformed judgements, rather than trying to understand the physical, neurological and psychological underpinnings of why our unhoused neighbors may appear to "refuse" services.
Sacramento City and County train all staff that work with and/or provide services to people experiencing homelessness and low-income people in the Trauma-Informed Approach. Additionally, Sacramento City and County adopt a trauma-informed approach to change the organizational culture of the delivery of all services to people experiencing homelessness and low-income people.
What does this mean in practice?
City and County changes their language when describing people experiencing homelessness and no longer refers to them as "service resistant;"
Immediately stop law enforcement sweeps of encampments - which are highly stressful events - and instead provide food, health and sanitation services to homeless encampments which will build trust and community;
Revamp the City and County 911 response moving forward; instead of having law enforcement respond to homeless and mental health 911 calls, form a 24/7 multi-disciplinary team, including Peer Advocates, to respond to these calls.
These are just a few examples of transforming the City's & County's policies and programs to embrace a trauma-informed approach and dramatically change the culture of this community, beginning with the Mayor, City Council and Board of Supervisors.
By embracing an equity-centered, trauma-informed approach, the City & County can move from understanding and treating people experiencing homelessness and low-income people as "service resistant" to "dignity resilient."
The explanation is grounded in an understanding of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma-Informed Care.
We make these recommendations based on the following analysis: