The Homeless

Major homeless nonprofit plans to close 90-bed shelter after loss of state funding

Sacramento community leader discusses homeless population served by new shelter

Leo McFarland, president and CEO of the Volunteers of America chapter in Sacramento, talks about the physical health challenges facing many of the homeless people who spent Wednesday night in the temporary shelter.
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Leo McFarland, president and CEO of the Volunteers of America chapter in Sacramento, talks about the physical health challenges facing many of the homeless people who spent Wednesday night in the temporary shelter.

A major homeless nonprofit will need to shut down 90 beds, a dining hall and a culinary training program at its Mather Community Campus in Rancho Cordova if it does not receive more funding by July 1, the nonprofit said Wednesday.

It’s the largest cut facing Mather in its 23 years of operating, said Christie Holderegger of Volunteers of America.

“It’s going to be a huge impact to our community having up to 90 empty beds. It just doesn’t make sense.” Holderegger said.

VOA is set to lose about $1 million in state and federal funding, Holderegger said. The nonprofit also received fewer private donations this year, Holderegger said.

The 90 beds are used for a one-year program so homeless people can live and receive services to help get them into permanent housing.

The funding gap will also cause the nonprofit to shut down its community dining hall and culinary training kitchen, Holderegger said.

The kitchen provides shelter guests with three meals a day – important for residents who don’t have kitchens in their rooms – while the culinary training kitchen gives residents a chance to learn job training to prepare them for employment once they leave the shelter, Holderegger said.

All who complete the culinary program find employment, Holderegger said.

The nonprofit had its funding cut from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development several years ago, Holderegger said. Last year, the nonprofit received about $800,000 in private donations to offset the losses, but this year there was a funding gap. The nonprofit leaders asked Sacramento County for additional funding in its new budget, but did not receive it, Holderegger said.

If the 90 beds are eliminated, the nonprofit will offer a total of 93 beds, including 40 that are reserved for homeless veterans, Holderegger said. The cuts would essentially shut down one of the 13 residential buildings on the Rancho Cordova campus.

Among the funding cuts include roughly $197,000 from the state’s CalWORKS Expanded Subsidized Employment contracts, according to the Sacramento County budget. That program, which funds organizations that help residents get welfare benefits and find permanent jobs, will be reduced by 15 percent.

The contracts helped place people with 178 employers last year, according to the budget. County staff reported that the reduction would “significantly reduce employment opportunities for the families” in the Welfare-to-Work program.

Other social services groups affected by the CalWORKS cuts include the Asian Resources, Inc., Bach Viet, Crossroads Diversified Services, Folsom Cordova Community Partnership, Lao Family Community Development and La Familia Counseling Center.

This story has been changed to correct the amount Volunteers of America could lose in CalWORKS funding.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.
Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers Sacramento County and the cities and suburbs beyond the capital. She’s previously worked at The New York Times and NPR, and is a former Bee intern. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she was the managing editor of The Daily Californian.
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