SACRAMENTO, Calif. — At 62 years old, John Eberhardt found himself homeless on Sacramento's streets about six months ago.
"North Sacramento and South Sacramento on the sidewalk," Eberhardt said.
That was the case until he found the city's 'Safe Ground' camping area near W and 6th, which just opened in April.
"I couldn't find food on my own, and I couldn't afford all of the things I need to survive if I was just homeless, so for me, this is a lifesaver," he said.
The camp is a pilot program by the city meant for anyone experiencing homelessness. The city provides the tents, bathrooms, water and 24/7 support, while each person is assigned a case manager to work with in order to find more permanent housing.
"To get everyone back on their feet, that's our main goal at the end of the day - is to help them and support them in that journey to getting them to their next step," said Zauna Nuru-Bates, a client support associate for First Step Communities.
Nuru-Bates is working here daily with First Step communities to provide support.
"I love that the city is giving this a chance and really believing in us and our goals and, of course, I love all of our clients and the people that stay here and all of the people I get to meet and just being able to help them make this process a little bit easier," she said.
Sacramento City Council is expected to release a master plan to address homelessness on Wednesday, with the goal of getting more than 9,000 people off the streets annually.
It's supposed to include a list of sites for permanent supportive housing, congregate shelters, tiny home communities and organized campgrounds just like the Safe Ground area.
Nuru-Bates said she's hoping the city will expand on this program.
"Even in these short months, we've seen such an improvement in people's lives," she said. "You can see how many unhoused people there are, and they would benefit a lot from having programs like this. So, I really hope to see more Safe Grounds."
Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg is unveiling the city's new homeless plan on Wednesday morning and the city council is expected to bring this to a vote on August 10.
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