Citrus Heights HART Providing Local Solutions to a Local Issue
Homelessness is a large and complicated challenge nationwide and especially here in the state of California. Per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are approximately 113,000 homeless individuals in California – 20% of all homeless people in the United States. California has the highest rate of unsheltered homeless -67%. ‘Sacramento Steps Forward’ reports that the 2015 Point in Time Homeless Count revealed 2,650 homeless persons experiencing homelessness.
Citrus Heights HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) a group of nonprofits, street ministries, service and government organizations, churches and others formed in 2015 to develop solutions on a local level. The group’s mission is to provide resources that will enable at-risk people and those experiencing homelessness in Citrus Heights and adjacent areas to become independent, self-sustaining and participating members of the community.
Surveys indicate that Citrus Heights homeless prefer to stay in the Citrus Heights area and this is most likely true of other areas as well. CH HART is one of three HART groups which includes Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove HART. Each HART focuses on its own programs to address local issues associated with homelessness.
Citrus Heights HART focuses on a few programs: Homeless Outreach Navigator, Stand Down event for homeless veterans and Winter Sanctuary. CH HART has worked with the City of Citrus Heights to develop and activate a homeless outreach navigator program. The Navigator assists homeless individuals in various ways by connecting them with available services. Most social and judicial services are in the urban core/downtown which presents a challenge and obstacle to homeless and at risk populations in the outer core (suburbs).
“In 2017, we plan to advocate more aggressively for County services to more conveniently and effectively address issues in the areas outside of downtown core,” said Kathilynn Carpenter, founding member and Chair of CH HART.
CH HART held its first Stand Down event on March 30 of this year and assisted approximately 80 veterans with Veteran’s Affairs issues, legal services, medical, hair-cuts and showers, clothing, pet services and more. The second annual event is planned for April 18, 2017.
This past winter, CH HART participated in the Rancho Cordova Winter Sanctuary program and hosted a one week shelter at Holy Family Church. This winter, the group is hosting its own program and currently committed to four weeks beginning December 26.
The group has recently formed a Housing Committee to explore ways they can help with housing opportunities in more tangible ways through master leasing programs, transitional housing and other options.