Local resources support Davis’ homeless population
By YAN YAN HUSTIS HAYES – [email protected]
The last homeless census in 2019 counted 670 homeless people in total; However, the actual homeless population in Davis is difficult to measure due to the pandemic as well as seasonal variations. For this reason, many Davis-based organizations work year round to provide services and programs to homeless people in the area.
Davis Community Meals Executive Director Bill Pride explained that Davis Community Meals launched its first meal program in 1991 and has since expanded to include services such as street assistance, shelters, employment programs and programs for homeless families.
âOur first program was a soup kitchen program to serve people who were [experiencing] homeless or impoverished or needy in the community, âsaid Pride. âSince then we have expanded to offer a variety of programs – our meal program has gone from one night to three days a week and we have decided to provide transitional housing and shelter.
Although the exact number varies depending on the time of year, these programs serve about 400 homeless people, according to Pride.
âSome people are only in town once in a while,â Pride said. âIn Davis, we serve well over 400 homeless people and that’s just because people come in for a bit, we serve them and they move elsewhere.
While increased attention is paid to homelessness during the winter months, people experience homelessness all year round. Pride emphasized that there is a continuing need for services.
âI know people think that the winter months [are important] because of the cold and the rain, but [the homeless] need year round service, âPride said. âIn some ways, the summers here are probably even more dangerous for the homeless because of the heat. “
Those interested in learning more about Davis Community Meals or exploring volunteer opportunities should visit the Davis Community Meals website. A full list of homeless services in Yolo County, including clinics, soup kitchens, and case management, is available on the county’s website.
In addition to shelters and food programs for the homeless population of Davis, homeless people can also find services for their pets through the Davis Pet Advocacy and Wellness Veterinary Clinic (Davis PAW). Davis Paw Clinic’s chief coordinator Haley Stein explained that the clinic was started last year by a group of third-year veterinary students and a veterinarian.
âThey saw the need for the homeless population to have veterinary care in Davis,â said Stein. âThere are a lot of programs in the area but there was nothing in Davis. [Now] we usually have ten to twenty student volunteers.
Stein, a second-year veterinary student at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that clinics are held once a month at the Respite Center in Davis and meet a significant need for veterinary care.
âIt varies from about five to twenty clients per clinic and the [number] pets also vary because some people will have more than one, âsaid Stein. âThere are a lot of people who aren’t housed in the area who have pets and that’s not something you really think about that much. They care about their animals a lot and that’s pretty much what keeps them going.
The idea that people who are homeless and subsequently do not have enough money to care for their animals do not deserve them is a common misconception, according to Stein.
“I would say [that] the most important thing I learned from doing this is that these people care so much about their animals and deserve the best possible care, âsaid Stein. âIf you want to get involved, you can. “
More information on volunteer opportunities for undergraduate and veterinary medicine students as well as more information about the program can be found on the Davis PAW Clinic website.
One on-campus resource that caters specifically to students is the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, whose mission is to help alleviate the effects of food and housing insecurity. UC Davis Basic Needs Initiative and Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center director Lesile Kemp explained that the Aggie Compass serves about 10% of the student body.
âWe are looking to double and triple that percentage over the next few years,â Kemp said via email. âWe also have non-students looking for support and in those cases we help them connect with community resources. “
Kemp encouraged students who are struggling to obtain basic necessities or who experience homelessness to contact Aggie Compass for services such as a rapid relocation program for students, scholarships for students in financial difficulty. , hotel vouchers and consultations.
âIf someone skips meals or lives in their car thinking, it’s not that big of a deal that there are people out there who need help more than meâ¦ come see us,â Kemp said. âIf you don’t want to go in person, fill out a Basic Needs Support form on our website and we’ll get back to you. “
Listening to the needs of homeless students is an important part of how Aggie Compass ensures that its services support students in the best possible way. Kemp has requested that all homeless students who wish to talk about what Aggie Compass can do to help students living in cars and vans contact Kemp or Aggie Compass directly.
âI have immense respect for our students who are not housed and who are preparing for a degree from UC Davis,â Kemp said. âThere are so many things they have to do just to stay safe, eat and find a place to sleep that succeeding in school seems almost impossible. We listen to our students.
While Aggie Compass is still working to restart its volunteer program, students who wish to get involved should contact Aggie Compass partner programs such as ASUCD Pantry, Fruit & Veggie Up! and the Food Recovery Network.
Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes – [email protected]g