Across the US, there are 37.2 million Americans living below the poverty line with 580,000 people experiencing homelessness on a given night. Based on a two-night Sacramento Point-In-Time (PIT) Count in January 2019, there were 5,570 people experiencing homelessness (single adults, families with children, unaccompanied youth) on a given night. This is an increase of 19% across Sacramento County from 2017 to 2019. There are multiple factors contributing to homelessness everywhere but in Sacramento, low wages, insufficient affordable housing options, and racial inequities play key roles.
Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) is the lead agency for the Sacramento Continuum of Care. Our vision is for an equitable community where everyone has a safe place to call home. To help drive this work forward this Homelessness Awareness Month, we share several ways in which you can gain a better understanding of Sacramento’s homelessness landscape, advocate and raise awareness about the homelessness crisis, and support the continued facilitation of systemic work to more compassionately end homelessness.
We’ve been working to increase homelessness awareness by providing real-time data of key demographics and housing statistics with our interactive Public dashboard. You can use the interactive Public Dashboard to help understand the demographics of people experiencing homelessness (PEH). You can also take advantage of publicly available Continuum of Care discussions to stay updated and involved in Sacramento’s community planning and coordination activities. The Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisor meetings are also great sources for you to learn about decisions and discussions around housing and homelessness. Additionally, you can volunteer at the 2022 PIT Count to survey and count individuals living in areas not meant for human habitation. The PIT Count gives you a snapshot of unsheltered homelessness and trends in subpopulation demographics. The PIT data informs national- and local-level decisions, creating an evidenced-based pathway for awareness-raising, policymaking, and solutioning. If you’re interested in participating, please complete this volunteer form!
Engaging with outreach and advocacy groups are helpful ways to learn more about homelessness in our community. For instance, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we collaborated with advocacy groups to distribute essential supplies to unsheltered communities and administer COVID-19 vaccines once they became available. Partnerships with these outreach and advocacy groups fostered coordinated action that increased the community’s capacity to help the most in need. Engaging with these groups allow people to play a direct, hands-on role in making a difference in others’ lives–no matter how big or small. Tethering the community in public service also widens the circle further to advocate for the needs of the homeless and social service gaps.
Financial donations to organizations and institutions leading systemic work to address homelessness can also support new and existing initiatives. This #GivingTuesday is a great time to explore and show support for local groups with your generosity. Your donation this giving season would help us build winter outreach kits, help us improve our data collection and monitoring, and support local homeless programs. We also encourage you to consider supporting other organizations who have dedicated their time to serving the less fortunate.
While there is still much work to be done in the homelessness arena, there are a handful of ways to begin engaging in the community especially during this Homelessness Awareness Month. It is the time to learn about your community, advocate and collaborate with outreach groups, and support organizations taking systemic and direct actions.