The only way to describe the homeless problem in Sacramento is a tragedy of reality. The issues around the problems and solutions are complex. People are suffering. The community wants answers.
The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, which operates under a city-county joint power authority, works diligently to secure federal and state funding. We have been successful in using our funding to serve the most vulnerable people in our community, including seniors, the disabled and extremely low-income families.
For the many homeless men, women and families with children, the need far exceeds the resources available. While we take pride in the many people we help, we also feel the pain of the many waiting desperately for some sort of relief.
As Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a Bee article detailing the county’s comprehensive homeless plan, we are going to witness a “paradigm shift.”
Our city and county elected leaders, their respective management and staff have answered the call for comprehensive solutions, and SHRA is prepared to help implement those solutions.
We applaud the amazing tenacity of the city and county for not only “talking the talk, but walking the walk.” The county, which has been working on new homeless solutions for more than year, pledged $5.58 million in new spending for the next fiscal year and $8.3 million in new spending annually. With redirected existing funds, the annual allocation would be $10.2 million from the general fund. The city has pledged another $5 million.
Exact funding and expenditures for new homeless programs will be determined when the city and county complete their budget process in the coming months.
Under the county’s proposed plan, we will see a new full-service shelter, new rehousing program, a redesign of the family emergency shelter network and support for existing job training and transitional housing programs.
The efforts of the county and city cannot be underestimated, but headwinds remain. The last time we opened our waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher program, more than 46,000 people applied within a two-week window. There’s simply not enough money for housing and services to solve the problem.
At SHRA, we won’t give up. We provide housing to more than 50,000 people of which more than 40 percent are children. We are funding new housing construction, rehabbing older structures, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods and leveraging Choice Neighborhoods and Promise Zone funding to create jobs, accelerate education, improve access to health care and reinvigorate commercial zones.
Our program has been honored as one of the best in the country by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Our 230 employees, and an army of public and private sector partners, are totally engaged in the battle.
We are on the right trajectory with bold and innovative thinking and actions. But funding clouds loom as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks a $6 billion cut of HUD programs. If passed, we will all feel the pain.
We are encouraged that our elected leaders are dedicated to continue to work on new solutions and to seek more long-term local funding sources. Last year, Los Angeles voters overwhelming passed a $1.2 billion bond measure to address the housing need of the chronically homeless.
SHRA is all about changing lives. Funding is the critical part of the equation, and when everyone plays a role in lifting up those most in need, the formula is complete and the entire community benefits through vibrant neighborhoods, a stable workforce and a strong economy.
La Shelle Dozier is executive director of Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. She can be contacted at LDozier@shra.org.