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How Sacramento is preparing to help the homeless as a winter storm looms

The city of Sacramento says it funds 1,100 beds that are available for anyone, any day of the year to take cover.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With a storm looming over Northern California, concerns are growing for the homeless population.

There are more than 9,000 homeless people living in Sacramento County alone, and the county says 72% of them are unsheltered.

"This is literally a matter of life and death for thousands and thousands of our unhoused neighbors," said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director for the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.

Powerful winds, rain and snow slamming the region translates to dangerous conditions, especially for the vulnerable homeless population.

"Just imagine all your worldly possessions, whatever they may be - a birth certificate and medicine, a few clothes, you know, just for example - being exposed to the elements," said Erlenbusch.

Due to the risks, the city of Sacramento says it funds 1,100 beds that are available for anyone, any day of the year to take cover.

"We have inclement weather such as this, it's even more urgent to be able to have resources available," said Nick Golling, homeless services manager for the City of Sacramento.

Sacramento city officials say about 70 people can be accommodated at 2 walk-up warming centers that have been activated 12 days since the 13th of November. It will be activated again Thursday night through Tuesday and possibly beyond that.

And, the city is doing what they can to let the homeless know where to find them.

"We have outreach teams that are working out in the community on a daily basis, so they're also spreading the word as they're out responding to calls in the community," said Golling.

However, Erlenbusch says that's not enough.

"That needs to be in the hundreds, hundreds and hundreds, because of how many people are outside," he said.

Erlenbusch said another problem is transportation.

"Those are huge barriers for our unhoused neighbors to find places that are warm places, that are dry places to keep them alive," he said.

The city says it monitors its shelters daily, checking how many people are using them and where to adjust based on need. 

"If we're getting to capacity and needing to turn people away, it helps us to be able to assess and see if there was a need, there will be a need to pivot potentially, and look at any other locations," said Golling.

The Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness is having its 9th annual homeless memorial in just a few weeks. It's a candlelight vigil to remember our homeless neighbors who died this year. It's Dec. 21 at Sacramento City Hall.


2 storms aimed at Northern California with high impact travel issues | Winter Storm

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