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Sacramento County homeless kids get motel rooms after sleeping in cars or tents

Isaiah Brumfield, 6, works on a math lesson at Mustard Seed school for homeless children on Thurs., Oct. 1, 2015 in Sacramento, Calif. He is the youngest of three siblings that go to the school.
Isaiah Brumfield, 6, works on a math lesson at Mustard Seed school for homeless children on Thurs., Oct. 1, 2015 in Sacramento, Calif. He is the youngest of three siblings that go to the school. rbyer@sacbee.com

After Loaves & Fishes staff made a plea for shelter on behalf of homeless children at a Sacramento County meeting last week, county staff went to Mustard Seed School to get nearly a dozen families off the streets.

At the time, the Mustard Seed emergency school was serving 14 families with children sleeping in cars or tents rather than motels or friends’ homes. The Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance provided 10 families with motel vouchers and one with permanent housing. Two of the families left the county and the agency couldn’t locate the last one, county spokeswoman Laura McCasland said in an email.

“Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was really a case study in what the response to children in homelessness should be,” Mustard Seed Director Casey Knittel said. “We’re incredibly grateful for that, but ... there are more families coming every day who are sleeping in cars.”

McCasland said the county will continue to work with the Mustard Seed School to find shelter or permanent housing for students. Knittel said the school hopes county staff can return to the school on a regular basis to aid families.

The county is trying to find stable shelter or housing programs for families who received the motel vouchers, McCasland said.

In the past two weeks, Loaves & Fishes staff made two appeals to the county, first through a news conference and then at a Board of Supervisors meeting. During the news conference, Knittel said it used to be rare for Mustard Seed families to sleep outside rather than in some sort of temporary shelter and asked the county to fund more family shelter beds.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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