Homeless Population Up 31 Percent in Sacramento, New Report Finds

SACRAMENTO -- "This is not just a sobering reports, it's a damning report," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

The survey, taken in January, showed the homeless population was up 31 percent over two years ago. And those homeless who were staying in tents, cars or on the streets, rather than shelters, grew by a whopping 85 percent.

It also showed the number of homeless veterans grew by 50 percent.

"The streets are very unkind and very cold," said Reid Riddle, who is homeless.

Riddle left the streets and now lives in Quinn Cottages, a housing program that provides drug and employment counseling. It's a key component of Sacramento County's homeless initiative.

"We need lots more places like this," Riddle said.

A huge problem is that there are only 61 cottages here and 83 units at another location -- hardly enough to meet the need.

Compassion for the homeless is one thing, but there is growing pressure from downtown business interests who say the homeless are killing the city's renaissance, and neighborhoods who fear for their safety.

"Communities are suffering, businesses, residents. There are people out there who are being accosted," Steinberg said.

The homeless numbers are mirrored in other California counties....the common thread...according to Rancho Cordova Mayor Donald Terry...he not enough moderate priced houses and rising rents.

"People aren't making any more money, yet home prices are just still going through the roof," said Rancho Cordova Mayor Donald Terry. "We better figure out a way to fix, or yeah, it's going to get worse.

As for events like this, where programs such as the Cottages program get a pat on the back...

"We're always coming to celebrate the marginal improvement, I'm tired of it," Steinberg said.

Rancho Cordova has seen a 50 percent boost in the homeless count as well as the cost homes.