Here comes rain

Go to to make a donation to the winter sanctuary program.

NOTE: The below editorial went to print just before the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors reversed on this matter and voted to come up with $150,000 to provide winter shelter for 75 to 100 local homeless people through the winter months. We at the SN&R are thankful for the decision.

Like other regional homeless advocates, we were hugely disappointed to hear the county declare recently that it had no money—zero—for helping fund a winter shelter for Sacramento’s homeless during the wet and rainy nights that lay ahead.

We know the county is struggling with budget deficits and that funding for the winter shelter program has been dwindling year by year. The county used to spend $700,000 assisting the indigent with housing during the harsh months; last year it could barely muster $250,000. But zero this year? Some winter support for the county’s least well-off citizens simply can’t be too much to ask of local government.

Last year, we were pleased to support the “winter sanctuary” effort, where 24 local interfaith organizations partnered with the Salvation Army to provide overnight accommodations, on a rotating basis, for 80 to 100 people a night in churches, synagogues and other places of worship. And now the interfaith team is gearing up again to offer rotating shelter to 100 homeless per night.

But that’s not enough.

A recent census found more than 2,400 homeless men, women and children in the county; the 2011 Sacramento homeless count found 955 locals who literally sleep in the streets each night. A recent Loaves & Fishes survey found an increasing number of these are women and children.

The county must not abdicate its responsibility. We urge county supervisors to reconsider their priorities before the rains begin.