Two Sacramento shelter efforts heating up for the winter

By Brooke Purves

Two local shelter programs with long- and short-term goals are getting their respective houses in order in the face of another approaching winter.

Demolition started September on an expansion project at Next Move, one of two homeless shelters in the region that allows entire families—including single fathers and male teens—to stay together.

The Sacramento County Office of Education puts the number of children without a consistent and safe place to stay at well over 10,000, though a recent report from the California Homeless Youth Project puts those figures closer to 12,000.

“I don’t think anybody really knows why family homelessness has increased the way it has,” said Carolyn Brodt, CEO and president of Next Move, which was formerly known as the Sacramento Area Emerging Housing Center. “We don’t have a good grip on family homelessness in the country.”

Completion of the expansion project is expected in spring 2015, and would allow Next Move to shelter up to 85 people at a time—a 50-percent increase from its current capacity—for up to 30 days at a time. New classrooms and a computer lab are also in the works.

Meanwhile, Sacramento Steps Forward is about to hit its annual $300,000 fundraising goal for its winter sanctuary program, which provides overnight shelter and hot meals to homeless Sacramentans during the year’s coldest months.

Rev. Rick Cole single-handedly raised the largest chunk by spending two much-publicized weeks living on the streets. The Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance has now suggested filling whatever gap remains as Steps Forward continues shaking the cup. Supervisors were expected to approve the recommendation during a December 9 procedural vote.

Last year, the program served 520 unique homeless individuals in Sacramento County. Point-in-time counts have estimated the number of homeless people without shelter in the county at more than 2,500 on a given night.

“We have an unsheltered population that are usually outside,” said Maya Wallace, director of external affairs for SSF. “In the winter it’s really important to get them inside.”

Wallace said the privately funded program can serve nearly 100 homeless individuals a night at a daily cost of $11 per person. Participants can be picked up each evening near Freedom Park and transported to one of several different shelter locations. The program runs from November 24 to March 31.

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