SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — According to a press release sent out Thursday evening, the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance (DHA) will begin its severe weather sheltering program. While the emergency sheltering plan came ahead of forecasted storms, it also came after heavy rain had already hit the region, flooding Safe Ground lots in the downtown area.
"This is the driest thing I have," said Robin Cushman, motioning to her wet jeans and bare feet. "I woke up with all my stuff wet."
Cushman had been staying at a city Safe Ground site on 6th and W streets off and on since March. She said her friend’s tent had flooded, causing him to need medical aid.
"The people here are living like rats," she said.
Backed up gutters and heavy morning downpours caused lots to fill with water, leaving half of Kirsten Bolles belongings wet as well.
"I know the lot is working on getting pallets here as quickly as possible to raise tents up off the ground to allow water to flow underneath," she said.
Bob Erlenbusch, an advocate for the unhoused and the executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, said his concern wasn't just about keeping people safe and dry.
"This is an issue of life and death," he said. "In January, with the storm with high winds, we had six homeless people die during the storm."
According to Sacramento County, the respite shelter program would remain active until Tuesday morning when the rain was predicted to dissipate.
Those seeking shelter would work with their referring party on transportation to and from the motel and were allowed to bring partners, pets and possessions with them for the duration of their stay. Capacity depends on motel room availability at the county’s partner motels. The county did not state how many motel rooms would be available.
Read the full statement here.