California’s homeless crisis has been steadily on the rise. The issue in California increased by 16.4% between 2018-2019 which is equivalent to about 2,100 people. The Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness curated a report to further enlighten the public about homelessness in Sacramento. Between 2002-2020, over 1,170 deaths from substance abuse, the leading cause of death for the homeless in Sacramento, were reported.
The City of Sacramento had created plans for a homeless shelter near Oak Park that was approved last August. The 100-bed-navigation shelter would provide access to mental health and medical needs, but was later revoked in May by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The cross ways of Broadway/Alhambra are owned by Caltrans but are systematically under Highway 50 & 99, construction of the shelter would require federal approval. According to Sacbee, Caltrans has urged the FHWA to allow the project to move forward as they have already hired local contractors. Sacramento continues to move forward with the project without federal support.
“Housing is very limited according to Mutual housing where 62,000 units are below the federal guidelines of hud in Sacramento county. There are future plans for housing but it is not even a fraction of what is needed. The section 8 housing lists allotted 7,000 new participants out of the 48,000 that applied. People who are unhoused are given 14 day vouchers in motels, but there is no housing therefore we see people timing out of the 14 days and the vouchers expire. The only entities we are really seeing having any housing is Sacramento self-help housing which is overburdened. According to the pit count 5,570 people were counted in a 24 hour period but in the same report it is estimated we have 10,000 to 11,000 on Sacramento county streets on any given night.”
According to Senate Bill (SB 1152) it’s illegal for hospitals to discharge patients onto the streets, they must be provided adequate mental and health facilities.
Without facilities for the homeless and individuals at risk, it leaves many other shelters in a status of overpopulation with no resources available, such as a mother of 3 who was evicted from the Bay area and forced to relocate into a Sacramento Area shelter. As COVID-19 has put California in a difficult state, many have become vulnerable to financial and health problems indefinitely.
“Our campus is a gathering place for guests experiencing homelessness, and COVID has taught us very quickly that we cannot congregate safely, and when we do we must all follow sanitation protocol. Before it was easy to come in and get situated, but now we are limited with space as we must all congregate at a safe distance,” says Joe Smith, Advocacy Director for Loaves & Fishes.
Loaves & Fishes has modified their services to 7am – 3pm due to COVID-19. Lunch is served seven days a week and breakfast is served on Monday through Friday. Showers for men and women are also available. Visit https://sacloaves.org/ to learn more about how to help during this time.