Council Recognizes the Need for Fair Housing

Story and photo by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-16

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights City Council recently issued a proclamation affirming the City’s commitment to ensuring equal access to housing for every member of the community. Mayor Jeannie Bruins said that the City of Citrus Heights is dedicated to continuing to fight for fair housing choices: “Every American, in choosing where they want to live, has the right to live in dignity and safety without fear of discrimination.”


Mayor Bruins presented the proclamation to John Foley of Sacramento Self Help Housing, which helps people find and maintain affordable housing. They focus on assisting people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Sacramento Self Help Housing also manages a Renters Helpline, educating tenants about their rights and offering free legal assistance in the case of discrimination.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Homelessness and housing instability forces families to make hard choices about the necessities of life and can make a significant impact on a family’s overall well-being. For families receiving reunification and family maintenance services through child welfare, Sacramento County is helping to address these housing needs with the Bringing Families Home housing program.

The goal of this program is to reduce the number of families experiencing homelessness, increase family reunification, and prevent foster care placements.

Bringing Families Home is a California Department of Social Services grant-funded program that began July 2017 and has already supported 87 families in need of housing services. Over the next year, the program will secure housing for a minimum of 100 Sacramento County families who are completing court-ordered services and working towards family reunification.

“Housing is a basic need and when parents are experiencing homelessness and housing instability, this need is often prioritized over the required services needed for reunification,” said Sacramento County Program Planner, Niku Mohanty-Campbell.

“Child Protective Services works to provide housing stability while also allowing parents to better engage in services and address the issues that brought them to the attention of child welfare. Bringing Families Home allows for more safe and timely reunification and can prevent future foster care placements, overall supporting better child welfare outcomes,” he stated.

To address the housing needs of Child Protective Services families, the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services has partnered with the County’s Department of Human Assistance along with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, and other organizations to provide families with an initial assessment, service and support to obtain housing, and short term case management once housing is located.

Families are referred to the Bringing Families Home program by their social worker. The program is voluntary, but participation in Family Reunification or family maintenance services is required for program eligibility. The program prioritizes families that are homeless, however, can serve those that are facing housing instability, which includes when a family is at imminent risk of losing their housing.

“Bringing Families Home works to address the barriers to obtaining and maintaining permanent housing for those who are homeless, at-risk of becoming homeless or are receiving Family Reunification or Family Maintenance services,” said Michelle Callejas, Sacramento County Director of Child, Family and Adult Services.

“Through this grant and partnership, we are able to help families find a house, pay up to a double deposit and provide families a rental subsidy for three months after they move in,” she added.

If your family or a family you know is receiving child welfare services and is interested in participating in the housing program, contact Sacramento County Program Planner, Niku Mohanty-Campbell or email CPSBFHHouseReferral@saccounty.net.

Bringing Families Home is one of several County programs helping families and individuals experiencing homelessness transition to permanent housing stability. Ongoing County programs include the County’s Flexible Supportive Re-Housing Program, the CalWORKS Housing Support Program as well as new programs, such as the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP), an $8 million re-housing program funded through the new State Homeless Emergency Aid Program.

Launching in May, FHP will help resolve homelessness for up to 600 households, including vulnerable seniors, those engaged with criminal justice, unsheltered individuals and families, and those staying in an emergency shelter.

For additional information on County homeless activities, visit Sacramento County’s Responding to Homelessness webpage.

 

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CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Officer James Garing and Sergeant James Evans are part of the Special Operations Unit of the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD). They recently updated the Citrus Heights City Council about the department’s efforts to provide resources to homeless persons in the city.

Because homelessness is an issue that affects the entire region, the CHPD is partnering with many agencies in the area: California Highway Patrol, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Probation, Roseville Police, Auburn Police, Lincoln Police, Rocklin Police, and Union Pacific Railroad Police.

The regional partners hold quarterly meetings to discuss the failures and successes of various strategies to address homelessness. These meetings provide an opportunity for the agencies to collaborate and find solutions to problems. Officer Garing explained that one of the failed strategies was a practice known as “re-towning,” in which an agency would pick up a homeless person and drop them off in the next city.

Officer Garing said, “This was not a solution to solve any problems and, quite frankly, it made a lot of the agencies look bad.” The regional partners have now all mutually agreed to suspend this practice and focus on providing resources to help address the underlying causes of homelessness.

“We have resources available in the area for people that are homeless,” said Officer Garing. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it. And when it comes to working with our homeless, we can provide them all the resource information, but we can’t force them to take it and we can’t force them to go to the shelters. So what we have to do is figure out ways to have continuous contact, and to find our success that way. And one of our best resources is Toni, our Navigator.”

The most successful strategy implemented by the CHPD is the Navigator Program. Toni Morgan is the Citrus Heights Navigator, and each week she goes to targeted locations with CHPD officers to meet directly with homeless persons in the city.

“Essentially, we’re bringing the resources and information to them,” said Officer Garing. “And then [Morgan] can set up the appointments and meetings and start bringing them into her program and eventually have that continuous contact.”

“We can’t force them into these programs; all we can do is encourage them to get involved,” said Officer Garing. Sometimes people accept help after the first contact, but for others it takes 10 to 20 contacts before they are willing to engage.

Officer Garing said that is why continuous contact is so important: eventually people realize that Morgan and the accompanying officers really do care and want to help them improve their living situation.

Citrus Heights was the first city in the region to implement the Navigator Program. Morgan, the original Navigator, has now trained six additional Navigators in the Sacramento area. In the first quarter of 2019, Morgan has already housed 30 people, helped 14 people get new IDs, provided 10 lawyer referrals, given out 32 bus passes, and enrolled three people into the Mather program — a 13-month job placement and living program. Morgan currently has 880 active clients.

In 2015, CHPD started the Homeless Outreach Program and Education (HOPE) Survey, which is conducted in April each year. During any contact with a homeless person, officers collect their information and give it to Morgan so she can reach out to them. Because officers are out in the field responding to a variety of calls, they have many opportunities to meet people who could benefit from the help of the Navigator Program.

When comparing HOPE Survey cards with the regional partners, the CHPD was interested to see if there was a migratory pattern of homelessness. Of the 147 survey cards collected in Citrus Heights last year, the other agencies only recognized three names. This indicates that the majority of homeless people have ties to specific communities.

Now that there more regional Navigators available, people can receive the resources they need within their own community.

 

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Council Recognizes the Need for Fair Housing

Story and photo by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-05-16

John Foley (left) of Sacramento Self Help Housing accepts a proclamation affirming the City’s support of Fair Housing Month. Mayor Jeannie Bruins (right) recognized the organization’s important role in protecting tenant rights.

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights City Council recently issued a proclamation affirming the City’s commitment to ensuring equal access to housing for every member of the community. Mayor Jeannie Bruins said that the City of Citrus Heights is dedicated to continuing to fight for fair housing choices: “Every American, in choosing where they want to live, has the right to live in dignity and safety without fear of discrimination.”


Mayor Bruins presented the proclamation to John Foley of Sacramento Self Help Housing, which helps people find and maintain affordable housing. They focus on assisting people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Sacramento Self Help Housing also manages a Renters Helpline, educating tenants about their rights and offering free legal assistance in the case of discrimination.

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada (VOA) has launched a 40-bed transitional housing and employment services program for veterans experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County.

The program provides furnished temporary housing in individual studio apartments, meals, life skills and financial management classes, pre-employment and vocational training, employment placement assistance, substance abuse support, housing location and transportation services to single male and female veterans. This program is funded through a grant awarded to VOA from the Veterans Administration and is the only “Service Intensive Transitional Housing” program for Veterans in Sacramento County.

“We are very excited to add this invaluable program to Volunteers of America’s existing services for veterans in Sacramento County at Mather Community Campus,” says VOA Division Director, Sherman Haggerty. “This program will allow a unique group of veterans the extra time and help needed to meet their goal of achieving independent living.”

This program offers the first new transitional housing beds for homeless veterans in Sacramento County, in over three years. The housing units are conveniently located at VOA’s Mather Community Campus adjacent to VOA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program and the Veteran Service Center all located on the same campus. These housing units are also conveniently located near Sacramento’s Veterans Hospital Administration Hospital. Additional housing units are currently under construction at the Mather campus which will increase local housing inventory.

Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada provides specialized programs for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in the Greater Sacramento area. Services include rapid re-housing, case-management and homeless prevention. A large focus is heavily placed on increasing veteran men's and women's employment possibilities through life and job skills classes. 

Founded locally in 1911, the Northern California & Northern Nevada office of Volunteers of America is one of the largest providers of social services in the region. The professional paid staff operates more than 50 programs in categories that include: crisis housing, supportive housing, employment and training services, and corrections. In fact, Volunteers of America provides shelter or housing to nearly 1,800 men, women and children every night in Northern California. Nationally, Volunteers of America helps more than 2.5 million people annually in more than 400 communities. Learn more about Volunteers of America Northern California & Northern Nevada at  www.voa-ncnn.org.

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - In 2017, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved funding and implementation of four major initiatives to address critical needs of those experiencing homelessness and to help reduce the homeless population. Subsequently, two associated augmentations were added to further address the needs of all vulnerable population groups. The first programs began in October of 2017, several began in 2018 and many are in the process of becoming operational. In just one year’s time, the County has achieved phenomenal results from these new initiatives. 

  • Improve the Family Crisis Response and Shelters (October 2017)
    • 146 families served in shelter
    • 50 moved to permanent housing
  • Preserve Mather Community Campus (October 2017)
    • 351 individuals served in transitional housing
    • 116 moved to permanent housing
  • Full Service Rehousing Shelter (March 2018)
    • 91 individuals in scattered-site shelters
    • 19 moved to permanent housing
  • Flexible Supportive Re-housing Program (February 2018)
    • 191 individuals enrolled
    • 94 moved into permanent housing
  • Transitional Aged Youth (May 2018)
    • 115 served with prevention, diversion and intervention services
    • 35 moved to permanent housing
    • 32 maintained housing through services
    • 17 entered emergency shelter
  • Unincorporated County Navigation Services (April 2018)
    • 177 served through outreach and rehousing services
    • 30 moved to permanent housing

 

In total, 416 individuals have moved into permanent housing since the start of the first initiative in October 2017. 

“We are thrilled to share the success that our programs have had in this first year. In some programs, success has been demonstrated in mere months,” said Ann Edwards, Director of the Department of Human Assistance. “We are reaching people we have never been able to engage and they are seeing a real difference in their lives.”

On Oct. 16, 2018, the County Board of Supervisors endorsed the investment strategy for nearly $20 million in new State funding to combat homelessness in partnership with Sacramento Steps Forward and the City of Sacramento. On Dec. 11, the Board of Supervisors approved the acceptance of more than $11 million that the Department of Human Assistance will directly administer, building of the existing initiatives to reduce homelessness.

State funding comes through the State’s new Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) and the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program. The funds will provide additional emergency shelter for both families and individuals through Emergency Family Shelter and the Full Service Rehousing Shelters (FSRS). The FSRS is a scattered-site model using master leasing of vacant homes in the region to house up to five persons in addition to a fulltime house monitor. Residents are provided with intensive case management services and rehousing assistance to help them exit the program into stable, permanent housing with the support they need.

The funding also will create a Flexible Housing Pool (building on the Flexible Supportive Rehousing Program) that will offer both services and re-housing assistance to help households in shelter or working with navigation programs to move into housing more quickly.

For the first time, clients experiencing homelessness who are engaged in Adult Protective Services or jail diversion will be offered this practical assistance to resolve their homelessness. The County will also administer a new expungement clinic to help remove barriers to housing and employment. 

To be eligible to administer and receive the HEAP funds, the Board of Supervisors declared a shelter crisis on Oct. 16. Other cites declaring a crisis and participating in the program include the City of Sacramento, Elk Grove and Citrus Heights.

On Dec. 12, The Board of Supervisors heard and adopted the proposed Sacramento County Homeless Plan that is required to facilitate participation in the State’s No Place Like Home (NPLH) program. This program provides funding for new permanent supportive housing for people who are experiencing homelessness, chronic homelessness, or who are at risk of becoming chronically homeless, and who are also living with a serious mental illness and in need of mental health services. In NPLH developments, the County will provide a 20-year commitment to comprehensive services, including behavioral health services.

In addition to meeting State requirements for NPLH, the County’s Plan serves as a building block for all partners within Sacramento County to implement shared strategies that make a measureable impact on homelessness. The Plan was endorsed by the City of Sacramento and County Continuum of Care on Dec. 12.

“The County Homeless Plan reflects countless hours of collaboration with County departments, community groups, stakeholders and other jurisdictions within our region,” said Cindy Cavanaugh, Director of Homeless Initiatives. “The Plan lays out comprehensive strategies and concrete actions for Sacramento over the next several years. While pleased with early results of our homeless initiatives, this Plan says that, as a community, we are not letting up.”

Sacramento County will be eligible for $5,087,737 through the noncompetitive NPLH funding for housing developments, and is eligible to apply for a share of $400 million in competitive funds. The Board of Supervisors will approve development applications for the first round of NPLH competitive funding on Jan. 29. 

With the initial success of the Sacramento County homeless i​nitiatives and additional funding sources for expansion, collaborative community partnerships, and dedicated service providers, Sacramento County recognizes that change is possible for our community and the lives of its valued residents.

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Sacramento Self-Help Housing Presents First-Ever Drive

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - On Saturday, December 15, 2018, Sacramento Self-Help Housing (SSHH) will host its first-ever “Housewarming for the Homeless” winter donation drive at the Cal Expo main gate loop from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. To make it as easy as possible for the community to participate, SSHH staff and dedicated volunteers will be on-hand to collect linens (such as blankets, single and double bed sheets and towels), small appliances (such as microwaves, toasters and coffee makers) and kitchenware to be distributed to hundreds of recently homeless individuals in Sacramento County.

Sacramento Self-Help Housing is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency dedicated to assist those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to find and retain stable and affordable housing. With significant support provided by Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, SSHH successfully opened 30+ transitional and permanent supportive houses for the most vulnerable in our community in 2018. Looking forward to 2019, SSHH expects to do the same. In response to this rapid growth and as a result of the ever-increasing number of homeless men, women and families in Sacramento County, SSHH is garnering donations to assist with the transition of their clients from the street and onto a path of sustainable independent permanent housing.

The “Housewarming for the Homeless” needs list includes the following: Linens: bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, single and twin bed sheets, blankets, bed pillows, dish towels; Appliances: microwaves, toasters, coffee pots; Kitchenware: dishes, pots, pans, silverware

Each donation, big or small, will go directly to furnishing a home for a recently homeless individual or family in our community. For more information about Sacramento Self-Help Housing, please call 916-341-0593 or visit www.sacselfhelp.org

Sacramento Self-Help Housing assists local homeless individuals and families worried about losing their housing to find and retain stable and affordable housing. The not-for-profit organization provides resources such as an updated housing database on the website along with shared housing options for those without sufficient income to rent a unit by themselves. In addition, Sacramento Self-Help Housing reaches out to local homeless men and women living in camps in local communities to assess their needs and, whenever possible, refer them to available mental health services, medical care, financial aid, and shelter and housing options. For more, visit www.sacselfhelp.org or call 916-341-0593.

Source: T-Rock Communications

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