A new temporary homeless shelter that opened Wednesday night near the American River will be open through April after the city and county raised $110,000 this week to leave it open longer.
The shelter is at the Stanford Settlement, a non-profit in the Gardenland area near Garden Highway, and houses and feeds up to 25 people during "cold and wet weather." According to County Supervisor Phil Serna, the money for the shelter came together in the past 48 hours.
“Homelessness in our community, in the City of Sacramento, in the County of Sacramento, in the other six cities in our county, is really kind of our No. 1 priority," Serna said Thursday.
Both the city and county pitched in $25,000, the Sacramento Association of Realtors donated $50,000 and the United Public Employees union gave $10,000. Serna said Volunteers of America agreed to do overnight supervision and provide transportation and food.
In the first night, officials said they were able to fill the spaces, and had to turn away 11 people.
At a press conference announcing the joint effort, both Serna and Mayor Darrell Steinberg noted that there isn't nearly enough shelter, both temporary and permanent, to house the county's homeless population. Steinberg alluded to a more robust effort that the city and county plan to announce in the coming weeks that will provide both.
The homeless population in Sacramento has grown substantially in recent years. According to Sacramento Steps Forward, an organization working to end homelessness, the last point in time count revealed there were over 2,600 homeless people in the county.
Serna said he's went to help in the counts before, and the number is too low.
"I think we can all attest to that when we seen what we’ve seen in recent days," Serna said. "I would say, even conservatively, it’s probably twice that number here in the county of Sacramento. At least.”
Steinberg said the city's been talking to the school boards, the faith community and developers about vacant schools and buildings that could be used to further efforts to provide shelter.
"We do not need weeks or months of planning for how we’re going to deal with next winter," Steinberg said. "We need to deal with this winter.”