More than 80 Sacramento homeless people lined up this morning at Loaves and Fishes for the chance to get reliable shelter and have access to employment services this winter.
Todd Avery has never been homeless before. He says addiction caused him to lose everything. After a stint in prison, he is now trying to find housing and a job.
"I'm highly skilled in lots of areas: mechanical, forklift, warehousing, logistics. I want to go back to school to. It's a good plan to start things going. Most people going to school get jobs easier than people who are not."
Ryan Loofbourrow with Sacramento Steps Forward says this is the first year the organization is using smart tablets to sign up the most distressed homeless for services or bring them into the system.
"Focusing on areas that we've seen the highest mortality rate amongst homeless. So, that's central city, portion of Oak Park, and major transportation hubs. Those areas we'll do the outreach, and we'll focus on chronically homeless and veterans."
Winter Sanctuary is about $105,000 short of meeting its winter budget. Sacramento-area businesses donated $25,000 today.
Frankie Griffin Sr. was among the first ten people in line. He also spent last winter in shelters.
"Actually, financial problems. That's the reason why I'm here. Next year, hopefully, I'll hopefully get back into truck driving. That's something that one of my goals is and hopefully get back into that."
Tom Platina is the program operations manager. He says the return rate from last year's population is 90-percent.
"Ten of the average 100 that we had found permanent housing and they found a job through the program, worked to get those job skills. I'm hoping this year, 15-to-20."
Sacramento Steps Forward is using smart tablets to enroll people and will take the tablets in the field to help homeless who have not applied for shelter.
From now until April first, places of worship have guaranteed as many as 120 beds each night, though only two-thirds of the funding needed for the program has been raised.
Sacramento Steps Forward expects 150 homeless to apply.
The organization has joined with a national program called "Zero 2016" that has a goal of no new homeless by 2016 and no homeless veterans by next year.
Sacramento Steps Forward has received a $1 million grant from the City of Sacramento to help the most-at-risk homeless and to provide immediate help for people who have fallen into homelessness.