Contributed by Faye Kennedy
Once again, the Sacramento Area Black Caucus (SABC) and the Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign (Sac PPC) is sounding the alarm!! In March and April, we sounded the first alarm.
The persistent overrepresentation of Black people and people of color (POC) among the populations experiencing homelessness is a troubling reality across the United States, and Sacramento is no exception. Specifically, Black people are more likely than White people to experience homelessness in the United States, including in Sacramento County.
Not only are Black Sacramentans and people of color are experiencing homelessness at higher rates than their groups – they are dying more!! According to reports by the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness [SRCEH] and the 2019 Sacramento County Point-in-Time Homeless Count. Here are the facts and our recommendations: Take Action Now!!
- In Sacramento County 5,570 Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
- Homelessness has increased by an estimated 19% in Sacramento County since 2017.
- Addressing the lack of affordable housing was the number one issue mentioned by the unsheltered population.
- Last year, Sacramento had the highest rent increases in the state.
- Rising homelessness reflects the continued challenges with housing affordability.
- 20% of the homeless population were families with children and 33 % of those unsheltered families were living in vehicles.
- Poverty alone doesn’t account for the stark inequities, researchers say, because the number of Black and Native people who are homeless exceeds their proportion of people living in deep poverty. Those disparities, researchers say, are the result of centuries of discrimination in housing, criminal justice, child welfare and education. What’s new, though, is that cities and counties are beginning to take a hard look at how entrenched policy has served to perpetuate homelessness in Black and Brown communities.
- Black folks make up 13 percent of national population. Twenty-one percent of people living in poverty in the United States are Black, according to census data.
- Black folks account for 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness nationally— and half of homeless families with children, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), produced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. American Indians also are overrepresented in the homeless population.
- In Sacramento – Black folks make-up 30% of those who are unhoused
- The majority of homeless deaths were White (55%). Homeless people of color Ethnicity: The majority of homeless deaths were White (55%), with homeless people of color [Black; Asian; Latinx and Native American] comprising 45% of the homeless deaths – with Blacks comprising 28% of the total and 62% of all people of color homeless deaths; Black deaths increased significantly from an average of 19% between 2017 – 2019; Black homeless women die at a younger age than black homeless men; While 43.5% of homeless men are people of color; 48.5% of homeless women.
- are people of color.
- Read the article in the Sacramento Bee entitled: Record number of homeless people died in Sacramento County last year, new report shows at: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/homeless/article244698662.html?fbclid=IwAR3hK8UCwagFQXeb5okJ1lw8slUp9FHYCyiOIKqRNKcRCZ4f036yUNTujTE.
- Black, Brown and poor folks are greatly impacted by loss of jobs and income due to Covid-19 pandemic locally; now folks they will be impacted by evictions because folks will not be able to pay their rents or mortgages in August and September. Now thousands of Sacramentans are at risk of becoming homeless in the next few months due to evictions!!!!
Recommendations and Call to Action Now!! For August 11, 2002 City Council Meeting, we urge the City to allocate at least $20 million of the CARES funding toward
- Keep People Housed:
- Create a Homelessness Prevention fund of at least $10 million
- Maintain COVID-19 Eviction moratoriums for as long as needed
- While important, moratoriums are not sufficient, and the City should take additional steps to ensure lower income renters do not fall off the eviction cliff when the moratorium ends.
- Provide short term assistance in the form of rent vouchers of up to one months for low income renters (including seniors, low wage workers, artists, etc.).
- Provide direct rental supports for impacted property owners (priority for nonprofit affordable housing developers). CARES funding (along with CDBG and ESG funding) should be used to make temporary rent payments in exchange for a commitment to keep renters housed for at least 12 months.
- Provide moratoriums on code violation fines and displacement for homeowners.
- Conduct a tenant/homeowner Know Your Rights Public Information campaign in multiple languages
Rapid Shelter of People Experiencing Homelessness: Work with the County and expedite shelter and housing of at-risk individuals. Prioritize support for unsheltered individuals.
- Fund the cooling center tents [which can double as warming centers]
- Fund the Safe Parking Program – approved last year for CM Jennings and CM Guerra’s districts
- Use a portion of funds to increase shelter capacity, reconfigure shelter space to adhere to physical distancing, deliver medial and sanitary support for unsheltered people.
- Create and fund rehousing plans to move people from emergency COVID-19 sheltering to permanent affordable housing, especially supportive housing: including acquiring units being used for COVID emergency housing for permanent affordable housing; donation of public surplus lands, and purchase of vacant properties such as unused church or school sites.
- Expand case management services for individuals and families
Sanitation and life sustaining support for encampments:
- Work to maintain the current response infrastructure to encampments, including hand-washing stations and port-a-potties
- Expand the delivery of meals to encampments to at least 3,500 meals a day/ 7 days a week
- Scheduled trash pick-up at all 82 encampments
- Fund a mobile shower/bathroom program
- Maintain the medical support to encampments including adequate supplies
- Add navigators to do outreach to encampments
- Expand and improve the referral process and referral partners
- Conduct an information campaign in multiple languages to educate homeless people about COVID-19 and how to access services and housing
Take Action Now!!!
Please contact the Mayor and City Members: Call, e-mail and post in the public comments via eComment – CLICK HERE – to download the contact info for Mayor and City members of Sacramento.
Learn more about the mission of:
- Sacramento Area Black Caucus (SABC) @ http://www.facebook.com/sacramentoarea.blackcaucus
- Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign (Sac PPC) @ https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/committee/california/