Homeless camps grow along shores of American River

Maury Hatch, a fishing guide, shows us a view, by boat, of homeless camps along the lower American River.
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Maury Hatch, a fishing guide, shows us a view, by boat, of homeless camps along the lower American River.
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Faith leaders issue ‘call to action’ for plan to end homelessness in Sacramento

By Cynthia Hubert

chubert@sacbee.com

August 20, 2017 06:17 PM

Sacramento’s spiritual community, citing an alarming increase in homelessness, has issued a “call to action” for a comprehensive, collaborative plan to get thousands of people off the streets in the capital city and beyond.

“Clearly, the matter is getting worse,” said Karen Humphrey, a former Fresno mayor and activist for St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento. “The bottom line is we need a specific framework with timelines, individual responsibilities and measurable benchmarks for ending homelessness in Sacramento County.”

St. Mark’s and Sacramento Area Congregations Together are organizing a community meeting Wednesday evening at the church near Watt and El Camino avenues to urge political and community leaders to work together to begin drafting such a plan. Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who has made tackling homelessness a priority, is scheduled to attend, along with other city and county elected officials. The gathering is open to the public.

Mike Jaske, a member of Sacramento ACT, said that despite various initiatives and new sources of funding to address homelessness in the region, “We have not seen the city and the county work collaboratively on a plan. We are using this format to push leaders of the city and the county,” as well as the nonprofit Sacramento Steps Forward, to work together on the issue. The final document should address needs and funding for shelters, permanent housing, mental health care and other supportive services for all homeless people, Jaske said.

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A recent census documented that more than 3,600 people are homeless on any given night in Sacramento County, a 30 percent increase since 2015.

For Sacramento’s faith community, solving the problem is a moral imperative, Jaske said.

“We believe in compassion for the poor and loving your neighbor,” he said. “That translates into helping these people.”

The meeting is scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 2391 St. Marks Way.

Cynthia Hubert: 916-321-1082, @Cynthia_Hubert