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Homelessness: How much did the Citrus Heights Navigator program cost the city?

Navigators Gabriella Yost and Yvette Horst at a May 10 event in Citrus Heights. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
In recent years, city-funded “Navigators” have been credited with helping connect homeless in Citrus Heights with housing and support, but the program this year is in limbo due to the collapse of the organization that contracted with the city to provide the Navigator services.

City Economic Development and Community Engagement Director Meghan Huber told The Sentinel in a May 31 email that the city’s contract with Sacramento Self-Help Housing was $85,589 annually. She said that amount covered services for one full-time navigator and one part-time navigator.

Navigators Gabriella Yost worked full-time to provide transportation and offer assistance to people experiencing homelessness in Citrus Heights, while Yvette Horst worked part-time.

In her annual report to the City Council last month, Sunrise MarketPlace (SMP) Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter publicly offered to temporarily pay for the navigator program out of SMP funds if the city would be willing to reimburse SMP for the expense.

Carpenter, who also serves on the board of directors with Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), said the navigator program is critical to the success of homeless outreach in the city. The nonprofit organization is not currently structured to take on the navigator payroll, according to Carpenter.

“We know that the city is working diligently on a navigator and we just have our fingers crossed because we cannot do anything without a navigator,” Carpenter said. “We cannot do our rental assistance program because we’re not the ones out there looking for those people.”

Carpenter said HART is receiving $112,000 in ARPA funds, along with other grants and donations.

The Sentinel previously reported the Citrus Heights Rotary Club is another organization providing funds to HART. Earlier this year, the club named HART as the “fund-a-need” recipient for 2023. Club President Mark Duncan presented a $10,000 check to HART Board Chair Irene Hronicek during a May 10 meeting, The Sentinel reported. Duncan previously told The Sentinel he hopes the money will give the organization some hope.

In a May 3 email, Hronicek told The Sentinel that although some members of the community have asked her if HART could take over the navigator program, the organization is not in a position to manage the navigator program.

“As a volunteer-run organization, we do not have infrastructure for employees or a consistent revenue stream to pay a salary,” Hronicek said. “Supporting the Navigator program is a big part of what CH HART does — gathering and distributing donated supplies, paying for particular client needs or services, paying for bus passes, taking clients to appointments, paying for prescription meds.”

Sacramento County announced in a March 29 release that it would not renew contracts with SSHH due to what the county said was “significant financial issues at SSHH.” As previously reported by The Sentinel, that move prompted the organization to plan closure at the end of June.

City Manager Ash Feeney previously told The Sentinel that finding a replacement organization is a top priority for staff.

“I can’t really put an exact time-frame on it right now,” Feeney said last month. “But all I can tell you is it’s a daily focus for our team. When it’s a daily focus for our team, things happen pretty quickly.”

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