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Sac Press Live chat: Homelessness in Sacramento

SafeGround supporters held a vigil in 2011 calling for emergency shelters

As Thanksgiving approaches, we’re going to take some time to discuss the problems facing some of Sacramento’s least fortunate and understood citizens: the homeless.

Nick Miller from The Sacramento News and Review will be our guest today at noon on Sac Press Live to discuss his cover story from last week, "The real face of homelessness."

UPDATE: We have a late add on to the chat today – homeless advocate and blogger Tom Armstrong. We may be a bit delayed as a result but will start shortly. 

In the article, Miller tackles what he sees as the popular and often false assumptions the public makes about homelessness in the city.

You can and should read the full piece, but here are a few of the popular "myths" that Miller confronts in the piece, along with a snippet of his conclusion and analysis.

Myth: Lazy people refuse to work and end up homeless.

Miller’s conclusion: False. "The average homeless Sacramentan has 12.5 years of schooling, according to a recent SHC survey. Of the 400 homeless individuals questioned, 90 percent were unemployed, 90 percent wanted to work and 42 percent even possessed some kind of skill certificate."

Myth: There are thousands of homeless children in Sacramento.

Conclusion: True. "Consider a report by county school districts from last year. The study had teachers from 13 area school districts ask students about their living situations. What they learned: 11,354 Sacramento County kids were in homeless situations, the most being 964 first graders."

Myth: Illegal camping on the American River Parkway is out of control.

Conclusion: False "…violent incidents in the parkway have gone down over the past year, and rangers monitor the land near Highway 160, Northgate Boulevard and the 20th Street bridge more aggressively."

Myth: It’s pretty much impossible to get a shelter bed.

Conclusion: True. "There are only three family shelters in Sacramento, and employees say they are always full. In October at St. John’s Shelter, which offers a 90-day program for women and children, 204 families were turned away."

Myth: Homelessness and poverty services are bad for downtown’s economy.

Conclusion: False. "What’s at work now is a collaboration between business…and social-service programs in an effort to reimagine downtown’s economy."

Do you agree with Miller’s take on homelessness? What do you think should be done to help homelessness in the city? Let us know in the conversation below.  

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