In December, the 5th Annual Interfaith Homeless Memorial was held at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. This event marks those who died on Sacramento’s streets over the past year.
On July 20th, the Sacramento Land Trust Committee met at Southside Park Co-housing. They discussed the need for expansion, and how they plan to reach more Sacramento residents. The Sacramento Land Trust Committee, a nonprofit organization, aims to build equity for low to moderate-income residents.
Thousands of people are currently without a home in the Sacramento region. In Sacramento County alone it is believed that the number of people who are currently experiencing homelessness has risen from 2822 to 3665 people over just a few years. To put it in perspective, the population of an average high school in California is just 999 students. Many of these people have been on the streets for years.
In August, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, Sacramento Councilmember Jeff Harris and Sacramento Steps Forward Director Ryan Loofbourrow signed their names in bold and pledged to work together to stop the homelessness problem in Sacramento. However, recent public outcry from Sacramento citizens shows some of the disapproval of the current process.
On November 8th, from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, people will be holding hands and forming a human chain across I Street. The event is called “Hands Across I Street” and its purpose is to support a unified plan between the County and City of Sacramento to end the displacement. There is currently an agreement between the County and City to help people that are experiencing homelessness, however, there is yet to be a comprehensive plan.
“(There is) over $3 million in housing and services to help people experiencing homelessness,” stated the City of Sacramento Website.
“(There is) $1.35 million redesigned system for families experiencing homelessness,” stated the County Of Sacramento Website.
The County and City have their own individual plan to combat the problem, but the number of people experiencing destitution keeps rising in both places.
By holding hands and forming a human chain, the citizens hope to show that they want the County and City to work together in order to combat homelessness. Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Supervisor Kennedy will be attending the event. You can find out more about the event here.
A presentation about homeless LGBT Youth was held on at the Q-Spot on Wednesday, March 29th in Sacramento. The presentation was put on by youth working at the center. They went over facts about homeless youth in Sacramento as well as other parts of the United States. After the slide show they opened it up to the audience to ask questions about the information that was presented.
During the presentation, Maya, one of the young people putting on the presentation, talked about the troubles homeless youth face in Sacramento.
“There (has) been quite a few road blocks in Sacramento (to help homelessness), including the 2016 anti-camping ordinance, that continues to allied to the arrest of homeless folks,” said Maya. “This law allows for rampant discrimination. In a general synopsis it’s basically ‘you can’t have your belongings on the ground next to you, and if you do, a police officer is allowed to tell you to move, or to arrest you’, and these laws are wildly discriminatory to the undocumented, and the homeless.”
The Q-Spot also provides care packages for the homeless people who visit the center. The packages contain toothbrushes, soap, sunscreen, water bottles, and other necessities that a homeless person may not have. The packages are distributed to homeless in the Sacramento area.
“The Q-Spot is open everyday from 12 to 6 for LGBT and allied youth 13 to 23,” said Jessie, a youth program coordinator at the Q-Spot. “We have resources like showers, washers, and dryers; resources like hygiene supplies and warming supplies. We have different support groups that meet throughout the week. Every first Monday of the month is youth with disabilities, Wednesday is 13 to 17, Thursday is youth of color, and Friday is 18-23.”
The presentation lasted about one hour, and closed with questions from the audience. Many of the audience members who spoke up had other organizations to help the LGBT community, or to help the homeless. If you’d like to find out more about their organization, click here to go to their website.
Though many are concerned about crime rates in Sacramento County, there is still a dispute over the best way to handle it. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is seeking additional funding in order to improve on police presence in high-risk areas. Others insist that more unconventional measures are the key to bringing down crime in the county.
After a call to quorum, testimony for the public workshop began with Sheriff Scott Jones. Jones believes that improving on County Sheriff’s programs while cooperating with local organizations and communities can significantly cut down on crime.
Jones also highlighted the contrast in services between 2008 and today, after facing layoffs and reduced funding. While he recognized the importance of overall health in a community, the sheriff still called for additional funding for his department in order to increase its capacity to respond to emergencies.
“There are really two components to public safety. One is responding to 911 calls… the second is quality of life issues,” Jones said. “…the overall quality of life of a community has very little to do with our 911 response. You need both components.”
After testimony from the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney for the county Anne Schubert stepped up to the podium. While acknowledging the need for better emergency response, Schubert also emphasized preventative actions that could be taken outside the Sheriff’s Department.
“Community Government Relations Division… if we can prevent a crime on the front end, we’ll be safer as a community on the other end,” said DA Schubert.
Following the District Attorney was testimony from various community leaders, many working with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, or “ACT.” Pastors, youth organizers and concerned residents all took part in the workshop, some supporting the Sheriff’s Department request for additional funding, while others wanted the Board to consider other approaches.
One such member of the community was Bob Erlenbusch of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. In his view, protection and rehabilitation of the County’s homeless has much to do with crime rates and how thinly the Sheriff’s Department is spread.
Pastor Ellis Barbara Banks of the Christian Fellowship Church in Del Paso Heights also spoke to the Board of Supervisors. Banks concentrated on the health and wellbeing of the children in the community as a means of preventing crime.
“Education is the key to all of the stuff we’ve heard today. We’ve got to get them when they are young… but first we’ve got to get them alive… I am more concerned about our babies not living beyond two years.”
To view the entire workshop, click here (begin at 5:02:00)
Sacramento Winter Sanctuary is a program that is aimed towards helping homeless men and women. Sacramento Steps Forward has collaborated with religious groups to ensure that the Sacramento Winter Sanctuary program will be able to provide resources that the homeless need in order to find shelter during the cold winter months.
“Winter Sanctuary is the only winter shelter option in our community supported entirely by the private sector,” according to a 2012-2013 Winter Sanctuary Community report by Michelle Moons.
The Winter Sanctuary is supported by various religious groups in an effort built by the community. Homeless individuals are able to seek help and receive warm meals while having somewhere to stay for the night through the Winter Sanctuary program. In order to successfully provide the homeless with what they need, Winter Sanctuary is looking for religious groups to volunteer as a server for the homeless guests with dates from December 8 to March 31.
If you are unable to volunteer as a host for the homeless, there is always the option of donating to get involved with the program. It only costs $11 a day to support a homeless person in need of shelter and food. Donations contribute with the transition to becoming self-sufficient and leaving the streets permanently.
You can support the Winter Sanctuary program and learn more about how to make a difference by visiting http://sacramentostepsforward.org/
When Greg Karber’s small documentary on Abercrombie & Fitch apparel went viral, many people were struck by what he was trying to do. It was more than just doing the right thing for certain people, it was also making a statement. With the big changes in equality striking California everyday, many people are looking to make a change themselves.
If you’d like to take a look at Greg Karber’s original video, you can take a look here.