UPDATE (as of Wednesday morning)
Sacramento-area officials are scrambling to get as many winter shelter beds available to the homeless as possible, as this week's cold snap continues.
Fifty more individuals will be housed Wednesday night than Tuesday night, thanks to motel vouchers and a new shelter opening up. Those options were originally not going to be available until December 1st.
That will bring the number of homeless people with shelter up to 195. Officials had set a goal of housing 320 individuals by this past Monday, November 22nd. To fill the gap, they're asking Sacramento-area congregations to volunteer to host up to 100 homeleess people for a night or two at a time throughout the winter. And they're asking for more donations to fund the program.
We previously reported that only 25 individuals were housed last night, out of 320 (see below). In fact, another 120 were also housed, in a program funded by the federal stimulus.
Meantime, three heating centers that opened Tuesday night will stay open through at least Thursday night/Friday morning. They are:
- Volunteers of America A Street Shelter (1400 North A St., next door to TLCS Guest House): Men only
- Salvation Army Shelter (12th & North B St.): Women and Men, 18 and over
- Union Gospel Mission (400 Bannon St.): Men only
Last month, Sacramento city and county officials said 320 winter shelter beds would be ready by November 22nd - this past Monday. That night, there were zero beds available. Tuesday night - as temperatures dropped below freezing - there were 25, as one shelter scrambled to open up at the last minute. [See above for corrected numbers.] And a new program this year where churches volunteer to host up to a hundred homeless people for a night or two at a time might not get under way until the week before Christmas.
Tim Brown runs the city and county's effort to combat homelessness. He says this week's target start date was just a goal.
Brown: "We knew that was going to be an extremely difficult challenge. We've been trying really hard to do that, but we simply don't have staff in place, and we simply don't have churches lined up to be able to take people in yet. And we're still scrambling."
Brown says he's raised less than half of the $90,000 the church program needs to get through the winter.
In the meantime, Volunteers of America, the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission have all opened up heating centers for this week's frozen nights.
More information on the Winter Shelter program: www.sacramentostepsforward.com