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There are nearly 1,000 homeless men and women sleeping outdoors on any given night in Sacramento. As the cold, rainy weather approaches, the demand for emergency shelter will exceed available beds in our community. Without a warm, dry, safe place to sleep, these homeless individuals may be at greater risk of illness, injuries and even death.
Sacramento Steps Forward has partnered with the faith community early this year to make sure the third Winter Sanctuary Program is available for homeless men and women needing a place to sleep during the harsh winter months. Twenty-two churches and mosques have already signed up to provide nightly shelter and meals on a rotating basis to 100 single homeless people, beginning in late November through March 31. Transportation and staffing for the program are provided by Volunteers of America.
During their stay at Winter Sanctuary, homeless men and women receive encouragement and support from staff and congregation volunteers who often connect them with social services that can help transition them off the streets permanently. Last year the program served more than 500 individuals.
Winter shelter program funding
The City and County of Sacramento have already provided $250,000 for winter overflow shelter for families with children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The cost to operate Winter Sanctuary, which serves adults only, is $150,000 annually. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation recently made a generous commitment of $35,000 for this year’s program, and the River District donated another $3,000. Sacramento Steps Forward, in its preliminary efforts, raised $5,000. This leaves a funding gap of $107,000.
Priscilla Enriquez, chief giving officer at Sacramento Region Community Foundation, said, “Our board felt that winter sanctuary, although not a permanent solution to homelessness, provided a valuable source of needed emergency housing for those in need during a critical part of the year where the weather makes being outside a risk to health and safety.”
Sacramento Steps Forward will continue efforts to raise the funds needed for this and next year’s Winter Sanctuary Program, and will set up a dedicated fund for emergency shelter that can be accessed year round.
How you can get involved
We welcome your participation as a donor, volunteer or community partner for Winter Sanctuary’s third winter season. It only costs $11 a day to provide a safe place to sleep and a warm meal for someone in desperate need. You can donate individually or as part of a group effort at your workplace.
Call 916-577-9770 or visit sacramentostepsforward.org for more information about Winter Sanctuary and how you can make a difference.
Sacramento Steps Forward, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was launched in 2009 as new momentum gathered to refocus efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness in the greater Sacramento area. The agency is responsible for the planning and community work required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for receipt of homeless funding in Sacramento.
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