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87% of domestic violence unreported for Sacramento County's unhoused

Domestic violence incidents totaled 422 with only 53 reported in the first half of 2023, according to the sheriff's office.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif — After enforcing the law on the homeless community for the first half of the year, deputies found the unhoused are especially vulnerable to violent crime, especially women.

"People always talk about homelessness, housing. They never ever mentioned, sexual assaults or domestic violence. It's ongoing. And these victims are being traumatized again, and again, and again. Really want to shine a light on that and some of those issues with that," said Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper.

A Thursday news release from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office detailed their Homeless Outreach Team Enforcement Activities from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2023.

It says a total of 926 people were contacted with 602 citations issued, 221 misdemeanor arrests and 103 felony arrests.

"There's a lot of violence in the homeless camps where it's homeless on homeless. There's been over a dozen murders in Sacramento County where it involved homeless on homeless - a lot of issues out there," said Cooper.

Among the numbers released are statistics for victims of violent crime. The sheriff's office says 422 domestic violence incidents happened among the unhoused in the first seven months of the year and only 53 were reported. As for sexual assaults, 402 happened and only 162 were reported.

"Just the same thing for sexual assaults for women. It's rarely reported. And those numbers are significantly higher. And that's very troubling," said Cooper.

According to the sheriff's office, women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are especially vulnerable. He noted that the majority of sexual assaults are unhoused versus unhoused.

"You think about the folks out there, registered sex offenders, a lot of parolees that are homeless that aren't monitored, probationers that aren't monitored - and these folks prey upon other homeless folks. There's a hierarchy there. And that's unfortunate. And really, if you're a woman, your life is in danger every day," said Cooper.

Data showed 38% of the people contacted had a violent criminal history, 68% suffered from alcohol/drug abuse and 18% suffered from a mental health condition.

"If you want help, we want to help you. We want to get you housing and get you where you need to be. But unfortunately, a lot of folks don't want help. So it's kind of a double-edged sword," said Cooper.

"If you're mentally ill, you can't make the right decision. If you got a substance use problem, you can't make a good decision. And when you combine both of them, that's a disaster. And that's the big issue," he added.

Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to end homelessness, said the numbers aren't any different than what other studies have shown. 

"How are you going to trust someone to offer you services when you're continuing to criminalize them?" said Erlenbusch. 

He said shelter from the elements is a good step and a guaranteed income program will curb the problem from getting worse.

"We're doing a terrible job at homeless prevention. That's shameful," said Erlenbusch.

WATCH ALSO: Sacramento violates federal judge’s order in clearing homeless encampments around City Hall

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