Encampment Services Team​​​

​The Encampment Services Teams (EST) are multi-disciplinary teams that work to engage and stabilize individuals living in encampments through consistent outreach to facilitate and/or deliver health and basic need services and secure interim shelter or permanent housing placements.

Encampment Services Teams are comprised of one mental health counselor, one behavioral health peer specialist, and one outreach navigator—operating throughout the Unincorporated County. Each team is typically able to work in 2-3 encampments over an average of 12 weeks (actual length of time varies on the encampment size, the degree of need, and availability of shelter and housing placements to support successful transitions out of the encampment).  The teams operate with the belief that the key to supporting people on a pathway out of homelessness is through building strong and trusting relationships over time. ​​​

Frequently Asked Questions​​​​​​​​​​​

Homeless encampments take a variety of forms, including groups living under freeway overpasses, sleeping in parks, living on sidewalks or in vehicles/RVs. Encampments include those living with nothing more than sleeping mats, within makeshift cardboard configurations, or in tents.​

The EST is a collaborative, inter-agency, multidisciplinary outreach team that engages individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness where they are to develop trust, address immediate needs, and provide supportive linkages to interim shelter or permanent housing​​.

The EST staff directly working in encampments include:

  • Mental Health Counselors
  • Behavioral Health Peer Specialists
  • Contracted Outreach Navigators

The EST aims to:

  1. Connect individuals to shelter, housing and supportive services and 
  2. Support the County’s broader efforts to reduce the health, sanitation, and safety issues associated with living unsheltered that affects all Sacramento residents

  • Support with connecting to and entering shelter or permanent housing
  • Enrollment in public benefits (CalFresh, CalWorks, etc.)
  • Referrals to CalAim or other healthcare plans and providers
  • Referrals for substance use treatment services
  • Referrals to mental health providers and services
  • Supporting the coordination of water delivery and sanitation services​​

Encampments located in the unincorporated County are prioritized considering several factors, including: the size of the encampment; the percentage of highly vulnerable individuals in the encampment; the encampment’s longevity; and any associated public health, safety or sanitation issues that impact all Sacramento residents, regardless of housed status​​.

The intent of the broader County encampment coordination effort is to reduce the number of encampments through sustained monitoring by County departments and ongoing engagement. The County understands the community’s frustration with the return of encampments; however, the County is working within the legal constraints that require adequate notice and due process prior to resolving encampments. The key to supporting people on a pathway out of homelessness is through building a strong and trusting relationship over time. ​

While everyone is different and reasons for rejecting shelter vary, it is not uncommon for some people to reject services. Outreach workers cannot force people to accept shelter or housing, however, they have many tools to help motivate and encourage people to move, the most important of which is building a strong and trusting relationship. Individuals may choose to not go into shelter for a number of reasons including: 

  • Unwillingness/inability to go to shelter (reasons for this can range from previous bad experience, concern about losing a partner, pet or their possessions, perception of shelter as being a dirty place, history of incarceration, lack of reliable transportation, etc.) 
  • Current encampment location provides protection from natural elements 
  • Encampment provides a sense of community and safety
  • Individual(s) feel a connection to the surrounding neighborhood 
  • Mental health condition may hinder them from accepting services 

For more information, visit the Sacramento County Responding to Homelessness website at schs.saccounty.gov​