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Homeless services finally see coordination
By Erin Johansen and Lisa Bates
For the first time in years, stakeholders in Sacramento are committed to a single plan to end homelessness. While the situation is bleak on the streets, this commitment is new and can be a game-changer.
The key to success is the shared vow of all partners to move forward with action, services and resources. This means we work together.
We have already seen changes. Thanks to adoption of the city and county partnership, expanded homeless services are available. New housing and safe-stay shelter sites are planned, along with expanded behavioral health services in 11 community locations.
Last year, 9,278 homeless individuals were counted in Sacramento County. The number represented a 67% increase since the last count in 2019. Employment, social and health care problems contributed to the increase. Approximately six in 10 unsheltered adults indicate they have disabling health conditions that prevent them from working or maintaining stable housing.
Such complexity necessitates collaboration. The Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care is a 30-member regional planning body to improve coordination of housing and services for people who experience homelessness as they move to stable housing and self-sufficiency.
The planning group includes local government, homeless service providers and people with experience, plus businesses, advocates and faith groups. Sacramento Steps Forward is the lead agency and facilitates the connections. Sac Steps Forward coordinates our homeless response, manages funding and grants, and collects data to improve the system’s performance and connect clients to housing and services.
We believe collaboration and action will produce the changes we need. The city, county and continuum of care recently adopted the Sacramento Local Homeless Action Plan to line up resources for homeless people. The plan includes six strategies:
• Build and scale a coordinated access system where people know where and how to connect to resources.
• Ensure emergency shelters and temporary housing locations focus on clients leaving for permanent housing.
• Increase permanent housing opportunities.
• Prevent at-risk households from falling into homelessness.
• Attract and retain a robust and diverse workforce to deliver homeless services.
• Ensure people with behavioral health care needs can access services and supports.
The plan will serve as a blueprint for how we finally reduce and eliminate homelessness.
As we make progress, the public can measure our improvements by getting involved. If you would like to help end homelessness or learn more about Sacramento Steps Forward, visit sacramentostepsforward.org.
Erin Johansen is CEO of Hope Cooperative and Continuum of Care chair for 2021-23. Lisa Bates is CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward. They can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.