Homeless Shelter Crisis Declared in Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO -- On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors declared a shelter crisis in Sacramento.

The move has opened the door for $20 million in state funding to be shared between the county and the city.

"First we’re going to expand the sheltering. We know we have too many unsheltered people and if we can get people stabilized and sheltered we can begin helping them find housing and get other services they need," said Sacramento County's Director of Homeless Initiatives Cindy Cavanaugh.

They plan to use the money to open a triage shelter for 200 or more people and increase shelter capacity throughout the county.

A portion will also go to prevention outreach, jail diversion and rent subsidies.

"This will help but it certainly falls short of all we need to do. But we’ll continue to do what we can," said Don Nottoli, who is on the Board of Supervisors.

The money is available because of Senate Bill 850, signed into law in June. The measure makes $553 million in state funding available to cities and counties through block grants if they declare a shelter crisis.

Advocates see this as a good first step but hope supervisors will use the crisis declaration for more than just money.

"To give local governments more flexibility in how they enforce the rules in order to be able to open up vacant buildings, open up vacant land to allow sheltering for homeless people," said Cathy Creswell, a board member with the Sacramento Housing Alliance. "It would make a lot of sense and could move a long way to ending the crisis of homelessness.”

The City of Sacramento is also expected to declare a shelter crisis at the council meeting Tuesday night.