Sacramento Winter Sanctuary for the homeless, 2016.

Winter Sanctuary: Shelter for Single Adults

Winter Sanctuary is a rotating winter shelter for adults experiencing homelessness in the Sacramento region. From the Monday prior to Thanksgiving through March 31, houses of worship throughout Sacramento County sign up to host Winter Sanctuary at their facilities for one or several nights.

Winter Sanctuary guests meet at a staging location near Loaves & Fishes and are transported to the host congregation for the night, where volunteers provide food and sleeping accommodations. In the morning, guests receive a light breakfast and are bused back to the staging area.

Winter Sanctuary  is a key component in Sacramento’s homeless safety net.  Because of the partnership with the faith-based communities,  it is an extremely cost-effective emergency shelter option, at just $20 per person, per night. These funds provide our guests with screenings, transportation, food, sleeping accommodations and support from our Common Cents Homeless Navigators.  Winter Sanctuary is a front door to connect our most vulnerable residents with essential housing and support services that can help them get on the path to self-sufficiency.

Participating Congregations &  Organizations

Winter Sanctuary wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of the faith-based organizations and houses of worship in our community. This winter, 30 organizations are providing space, meals, fellowship, entertainment, books, sleeping pads, blankets, backpacks and other items to our guests.

American River Community Church
Arcade Church
Bayside of South Sacramento
Carmichael Presbyterian Church
Capital Christian Center
Christ Temple Apostolic Church
Congregation B’nai Israel
Faith Legacy Church
Faith Lutheran Church
First Covenant Church
Generations Church
Greater Grace Worship Center
Lutheran Church of the Master
Mosaic Law
Mt Calvary Missionary Baptist
New Life Community Church
St. Francis Episcopal Church
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
St Matthew’s Episcopal Church
St. Paul’s Baptist Church
Sun River Church
Sunrise Community Church
The Table at Central UMC
This Is Pentecost Ministries
Town and Country Lutheran
Trinity Life Center
Westminster Presbyterian Church

If you would like to know more about how to get involved with the Winter Sanctuary program, please read on and then contact Tiffany Mock-Goeman at

Winter Sanctuary is staffed by a dedicated team of shelter staff who create the continuity for our guests over the course of the 130 nights that Winter Sanctuary operates.  Staff are divided into four teams with the following schedules – day shift: 3pm to 11pm and night shift: 11pm to 7am.  Night staff maintain an awake shift during the overnight hours to ensure a peaceful night for all guests and facility security.  However, volunteers are a critical component of the program’s success, regardless of the role that is right for you-

Host Site: Any group of volunteers with access to a facility able to open its doors to approximately 100 homeless adults for a night (i.e.- congregations, social club, community center, gymnasium, vacant office/retail space, etc.)  Traditionally host sites provide volunteers to shop, cook, serve, cleanup and underwrite the cost of hosting for dinner and breakfast.

Host Volunteers:  Come by yourself or bring your friends and family. Volunteers will work together to act at hosts at the Winter Sanctuary Site-only Host site in lieu of volunteers that are normally associated with the host site.  Volunteers may assist with cooking, serving, and/or cleanup for the hot dinner or continental breakfast.  Approximately 10-12 volunteers are needed for the dinner service (4pm-7pm) and 4 volunteers for the breakfast service (4am-7am).  No fundraising is required by these volunteers.  Sacramento Steps Forward will coordinate and provide the food for preparation and serving.

Site-only Hosts: Any facility able to open its doors to approximately 100 homeless adults for a night (i.e.- congregations, social club, community center, gymnasium, vacant office/retail space, etc).  Sacramento Steps Forward will provide volunteers to act as hosts in lieu of volunteers that are normally associated with a Host site. No fundraising is required by these volunteers. Generally, access to the facility is needed from 4pm to 7am the following morning.

Intake Hospitality Volunteers:

Be a part of the intake process at Winter Sanctuary.  Help create a welcoming environment for our guests after they check in and while waiting to board the buses to our Host Site.  Hospitality Volunteers work in pairs and coordinate with shelter staff around various tasks including setting up tables with cards and games, distributing bathroom keys, ensuring the bathrooms have paper supplies, distributing hygiene kits and other donations, distributing from and tidying the clothes closet, etc. Shifts are available seven days/week from 3pm-5pm. Hospitality shifts will begin after January 1st, 2016.

Fundraising Goal: $75,000

In the past, the community raised all the funds to support this program.  Last year, Sacramento County stepped in and joined the effort by providing $100,000 in gap funding.  This year, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors pledged $260,000 to support the program for the full winter season.    We are so thankful for their substantial investment, but we know that with an additional $75,000 in campaign funds, we can get even better housing outcomes for our Winter Sanctuary guests:

  • Working actively with a Homeless Navigator for transitional or permanent housing referral
  • Transportation assistance for housing appointments
  • Assistance with collecting the necessary documentation to be placed in permanent housing
  • Participation in the “Ready to Rent” program
  • Move-in support
  • Pet fostering

Last year, over 1200 individuals across the region participated in our Winter Sanctuary Fundraising Drive.  With their help and the donations from Harvest Church, First Covenant, Bayside, Bayside of South Sacramento (BOSS), Capital Christian Center, Bank of America, the River District, Midtown Business Association, Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Mack Road Partnership, R Street Partnership, CFY Development, nearly $220,000 was raised.

We are especially grateful to our friends at Webconnex for their ongoing support of our online fundraising software.


2014-2015 Season Highlights

Guests Served

Over the 133 nights of Winter Sanctuary, our community provided food and shelter to an average of 85 individuals per night, and served a total of 446 guests. The average length of stay in Winter Sanctuary was 26 days.

While 283 Winter Sanctuary guests were male, 183 women were served.  We also housed 41 veterans.

Age Range Total Count
18-24 (Transition Age Youth) 17
25-34 77
35-44 83
45-54 158
55-61 77
62-over 33

Housing Placement/Common Cents Integration

Sacramento Common Cents, ending homeless, Zero 2016.Unlike in past years, Sacramento Steps Forward has access to emergency housing for vulnerable individuals as a result of Common Cents, thanks to our partnership with the City of Sacramento. As a result, we were able to place 8 homeless veterans in emergency housing while they await permanent housing placement within Sacramento County.

Interested in learning more about how you or your organization can participate in Winter Sanctuary? Send an email to for more information.