Having previously crowned himself as the “homeless czar,” California Governor Gavin Newsom has, for the first time in the state’s history, seen the homeless population for Sacramento rise by 67% over the course of three years, blowing past San Francisco’s numbers, which have reportedly fallen by roughly 15%.
The 2022 Sacramento Point-in-Time Count report, which was conducted by California State University, Sacramento, made sure to document each individual in the county currently dealing with homelessness over a single evening back in February. The count unveiled a quite noticeable jump in the homeless population for the county, with some estimations claiming that there were 9,278 individuals with absolutely no shelter in the state’s capital. The report also highlighted that the numbers seen in the 2019 poll were about half the size as seen in the most recent.
Dustin Luton, however, who is the president of the board of directors for the American River Parkway Foundation, a well-known nonprofit group intent on conserving the 23-mile river in Sacramento, made the argument that the latest data from the PIT Count does not truly explain the true problem inherent in the homelessness crisis on the river.
“The American River Parkway is ground zero for the homelessness crisis in Sacramento County,” Luton claimed in a release. “Even such a small sample size shows the large percentage of unhoused individuals that are illegally camping in the Parkway.”
The foundation stated that only a group of seven sites, known to be run via the City of Sacramento on the parkway, were actually surveyed, sporting a count that only actually included 594 illegal campers.
“Imagine what the count would have showed if the whole Parkway had been included,” he expressed.
The executive director of the American River Parkway Foundation, Dianna Poggetto, stated to ABC10 that the county is now at a “crisis level,” claiming that she hopes to witness the stats force city and country officials into action to create far more shelters and affordable housing.
“No one wants a shelter in their community, but at the same time, if we don’t create shelters, then we’re not going to solve the problem,” stated Poggetto. “These individuals need assistance, and we as a society should be able to assist them.”
Despite all of this, the official count from Sacramento State University stated that over 72% of the mentioned 9,000+ people were forced to sleep outside rather than in shelters. These numbers seem to include 1,600 tents and 1,100 cars identified in this count, a statistic that has managed to quadruple since 2019.
The individual homeless people that were interviewed for the report stated that they have to deal with disability or have struggled with chronic homelessness, which represents almost double the amount as was seen in the last count made three years ago.
Roughly 58% of those reported claimed that their chronic health conditions or disabilities reduced the odds that they would be able to hold stable employment and therefore stable housing.
As reported by Sacramento Steps Forward, a nonprofit seeking to put an end to homelessness in the county, the city budget promises roughly $33 million per year towards shelters and other various services for the homeless population. As of writing, Sacramento sports about 1,050 emergency beds and supports community groups that provide shelter and housing. Just this past year alone, the city issued another $50 in addition to the previously mentioned programs for mental health, rehousing assistance, and substance abuse.
The group recently stated that city and country officials issued approval for a combined $13 million to support the development and implementation of a new Coordinated Access System, which will assist in the streamlining of, and approve access to, resources for those dealing with homelessness.
“Homelessness is a complex issue with no single driver,” stated List Bates, the chief executive director of the nonprofit. “However, the extreme housing shortage and lack of affordability is one significant contributor to the increase in homelessness in California, and Sacramento is emblematic of that.”