Sacramento's homeless population will again have roaming winter shelters this year, and they'll spend at least some of their nights at a Rosemont church.
is one of the eight churches so far that have offered up space for Sacramento Steps Forward's Winter Sanctuary program, AmeriCorps VISTA Shannon Stevens said.
"We are working off the same program model as last year, where we were a nomadic emergency shelter program," Stevens said in a phone interview.
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The program was created last year in response to budget cuts that eliminated some winter homeless shelters. Single, homeless men and women meet at a staging area downtown, and are bused to a church for a night, where they receive a hot meal and a warm place to sleep. In the morning they're given a light breakfast and bused back downtown. The program is operated by Volunteers of America.
Some churches provide card games or show a movie, while others go as far as giving manicures and pedicures to attendees, Stevens said.
Sacramento County will also offer a winter shelter program, but it's designed for families. The county's $150,000 program is funded by "greater than expected savings in the Department of Human Assistance for Fiscal Year 2010/11," according to a press release (PDF). Last year, the county provided 50 beds.
Winter Sanctuary seeks more churches, donations
Sacramento Steps Forward organizers are still looking for more churches before the program starts next month.
"To date we have 75 days scheduled out of the 132-day winter, and that so far is divided out between [eight] local churches," Stevens said.
The program runs from Nov. 20 to March 31, when the winter weather is worst.
"I think it's important to note that this program definitely saves people's lives," she said. "The cold and wet weather out there makes our most vulnerable [even more vulnerable]."
Stevens said Sacramento Steps Forward is also seeking donations, since the program will cost $148,000 to operate this season. The group has received two grants and is waiting to hear back on more, but will likely have to fundraise to replace in-kind donations from last year that won't be available this time around, she said.
"Last year we were at risk of closing it down about a month early, and the community really stepped up to fill the gap," she said.
The churches that have so far signed up to participate in Winter Sanctuary are:
- St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church
- St. Paul's Lutheran Church
- Capital Christian Center
- St. Mark's United Methodist Church
- Arcade Church
- First Covenant Church of Sacramento
- Westminster Presbyterian Church
- New Life Community Church