Temperatures are plummeting and many of the area's emergency winter homeless shelters aren't opening for days, even weeks yet.
The City of Sacramento's shelter opens on Friday. It will serve 200 people.
And while Sacramento County's shelter opened Nov. 20, it's already at or near its capacity of 100 every night.
A group of five non-profit organizations is dedicated to serving homeless populations in Sacramento County's farther-flung communities. Each is called HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) and has an upcoming winter shelter that can house between 20 and 30 adults. None of those have opened yet either.
ABC10 spoke on Monday with Brenda O'Donnell, who works with Elk Grove HART.
"It's been to the 30s already. Imagine being out in a field somewhere in the cold or even just sleeping in your car," she said, describing the importance of winter shelters - or winter sanctuaries, as HART organizations call them. "It's an attempt to help them get through the winter unscathed, give them a warm place to sleep, hot meals to eat."
These HART organizations intentionally serve communities that are relatively far from downtown Sacramento.
"The urban core is where the services are," Scott Young, with Carmichael HART, said. "A lot of people associate Loaves and Fishes and some of those services that are in the downtown area, but all of our outlying communities like Folsom, Carmichael, Fair Oaks, are experiencing homelessness, a homeless population, and we hope to be able to provide some of those services that aren't currently available to them."
Carmichael HART is opening its first ever winter shelter this year, on New Year's Eve.
It starts with folks arriving at an intake center.
"They'll then be transported to the host site for the evening," Young explained. "They'll have an evening meal and they'll have a sleeping bag and a cot and have breakfast in the morning and be transported back."
Every one of the five HARTs' winter sanctuaries is comprised of a rotation of local churches, each of which offers its space as a nightly refuge for the span of one week.
"Really, our goal is to find permanent housing for people, not just provide temporary shelter," Young said. "But there's a definite need for temporary shelter as well."
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