Bridge to Housing Project Faces Tragedy, Stays Optimistic

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WEST SACRAMENTO-

"Whatever made him take himself out. It would have had to be pretty hard that tomorrow couldn't have been a better day for him," said Kathy, a homeless woman living in West Sacramento.

The Bridge to Housing Program was designed to be all about that better day. But a man who friends say was in his twenties, and in that program, took his own life Monday night.

The county and city cleared homeless camps at the West Sacramento Broderick Boat Ramp, and is housing them at the Old Town Inn where the man hung himself.

"It's absolutely a sad day. I don't think it's a set-back for the program," said Karen Larsen, Yolo County's Bridge to Housing administrator.

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The idea is to get the people off the street, in treatment if they need it, and eventually into Section 8, federally subsidized housing.

No one has made it there yet, but the program has a lease at the Old Town Inn in West Sacramento through February.

"It's convenient for them because they are building a marina. And they are able to put everyone in to one spot," said Kristi, a woman who has stayed at the Old Town Inn.

Residents and former residents say that living so close together, after what for many was years or decades living out in the open, is too much for some of the residents to take.

"It's hard to go from living outdoors to within four walls, with a roommate, with mental health issues, with animals. All of those things would be hard for any of us," Larsen said.

Larson says those issues haven't gotten any worse, and in some way have gotten better.

The bridge to housing program got $50,000 dollars in seed money from the city and the county each.

It was billed as an experiment from the beginning and it's still too soon to tell whether that experiment will be successful.

"I'm kind of a glass is half full gal, so I'm inclined to believe everything is going to work out the way it is supposed to," Larsen said.

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