Sausalito has approved a nearly half a million dollar deal with San Francisco-based Urban Alchemy to provide services to homeless campers at Marinship Park.
City Council unanimously approved the resolution at its December 7 meeting.
Mayor Jill Hoffman said the city contracted with the organization to run the camp because the city did not have the staff or the expertise to do so.
“City Council has decided that it is in the best interest of Marinship Park campers, as well as the general public, to maintain an organization experienced in the management of tent camps used by people who do not have the ability to. sleep inside, ”she said. .
In a proposal to the city, Urban Alchemy has indicated that it intends to manage the site and coordinate care for homeless residents. He said he is committed to positive engagements, interrupting negative behaviors and keeping common spaces clean. The proposal also includes de-escalation interventions for episodes of mental health or violence, and detention services.
City manager Chris Zapata described the deal at the meeting as a way to impose “more order, more maintenance and more security” on the camp.
The six-month agreement from January 3 to June 30, 2022 provides for services seven days a week for the first three months and five days a week for the last three months. The services are provided over a 24-hour period, Zapata said.
The total cost is $ 463,620 over six months and includes a 20% advance of $ 92,724.
Additionally, council also approved a retroactive payment of $ 34,914 to Urban Alchemy for overtime worked by staff during the move from Dunphy Park to Marinship Park over the summer. The original contract amount was $ 53,404.
The board approved $ 185,000 for security and awareness services on September 28. The remaining $ 278,620 and the retroactive $ 34,914 are financed from general fund reserves.
“They have once again agreed to help the community, to help the guests at the camp and to provide this level of service at this cost,” Zapata said.
The camp has been the site of discord and conflict for months. The city is currently involved in a dispute over its management of the site.
The new deal was criticized by a handful of local homeless advocates who questioned the price of the project and the credibility of Urban Alchemy.
Jason Sarris, a resident of a settlement run by the city of Novato, said after the meeting that the camp was suspicious of Urban Alchemy due to several pending lawsuits against them regarding their treatment of the homeless.
At least one of those cases is a civil rights lawsuit that alleges Urban Alchemy called the San Francisco Police Department on a homeless person, he said.
“They are not really providing something that the camp could not provide given the opportunity,” he said. “They cost their contracts dearly and I wonder how well trained they are to defuse situations. “
Hoffman said the city was aware of the Urban Alchemy litigation.
“We expect these claims to be fully investigated and dealt with by the court to which the claims were filed,” Hoffman said.
Urban Alchemy has provided services to homeless residents of Sausalito for almost a year. Hoffman said the nonprofit was first hired in February to assess the health and safety of residents of Dunphy Park. They were hired for various phases of additional work until November 6.
She said the city was “satisfied with the services provided”.
Board member Susan Cleveland-Knowles admitted the price was “overpriced” and unsustainable after the next six months.
Zapata said the encampment presented unique challenges and costs due to its proximity to water. He said the city is looking for partnerships with state agencies and nonprofits to possibly help with the payment in the future.
“We’re trying to hire someone who’s doing this in San Francisco and doing it at a high level and bringing it back to our community,” Zapata said. “It exceeds our ability to finance quickly. “
Deputy Mayor Janelle Kellman asked Urban Alchemy to provide council with daily reports on their interactions and the services provided. She said the reports would be private and protected by solicitor-client privilege as the city was involved in an ongoing litigation.
“We don’t take this lightly. We would like to move in a positive direction every day and we look forward to that, ”Kellman said.
Council member Ian Sobieski said the money was intended to help the homeless, but he was discouraged that some faced economic hardship, drug addiction, mental illness or trauma that could bring them to refuse services.
“We have many interests to balance as a city and we are trying to do our best,” he said.
The council previously signed a six-month homelessness services contract with the Marin County Cooperation Team (MCCT), an organization based in Sausalito, on October 26.
Jahmeer Reynolds, the organization’s executive director, said his group pulled out of the deal with Sausalito because he felt their missions and timeline were incompatible. The city pursued a renewed agreement with Urban Alchemy following the cancellation of the contract.
Reynolds said he was surprised to learn that the homeless union’s litigation against the city was so controversial and still ongoing. While at the site, he said, some of the campers referred to Reynolds, who is black, with racial slurs, he said.
“It’s something we didn’t want to be a part of,” he said.