SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced Monday he intends to introduce a resolution that would turn a city-owned building into a respite center and navigation hub for unhoused people that would be open for 24 hours every day. 

A blog post from the mayor’s office says Steinberg wants to transform the city’s former Powerhouse Science Center on Auburn Boulevard into the center. Currently, the building is already being used to offer respite to unhoused residents but only during extremely hot and cold weather conditions.

“Given the numbers of people who are homeless, there is no excuse for allowing a city-owned asset that is not being used for anything else to lay fallow,” Steinberg said in a video message. “It should be used for people who are out in the elements to come inside at night, but we want to do more than that.” 

“It’s a large campus, and the city has an opportunity to create a navigation center where, by referral, we can bring people who are chronically homeless so they can be assessed and referred to the right services and housing options,” Steinberg continued. 

According to Steinberg, he will bring the resolution to the Sacramento City Council at its meeting on July 19. 

A 24/7 facility was the original concept, but the council later voted to restrict operations to extreme weather conditions. 

The former science building currently houses offices for Hope Cooperative offices, a behavioral health and supportive housing service provider for people with mental health challenges in Sacramento County. 

The Sacramento City Council voted to approve a contract with Hope Cooperative in December. The contract, worth up to $3.26 million, is for the Hope Cooperative to operate the Outreach and Engagement Center. 

Currently, the Auburn Boulevard facility serves 50 people at a time and sits on 14 acres. 

Sacramento Steps Forward reported Tuesday that the number of unhoused people in Sacramento County rose by more than 60% between 2019 and 2022, and more than doubled the number in 2017. 

The report is based on a “point-in-time” count in February, which is normally conducted every two years. 

According to the “point-in-time” data, there were 9,728 unhoused individuals in Sacramento County, a 67% increase since 2019. In 2017, the “overall homeless” number was 3,665.