Rising rents, increased cost of living and a shortage of affordable housing — among other factors — have caused homelessness to increase across California communities, including Sacramento. For people already living paycheck-to-paycheck, a rent increase threatens housing stability. Victoria Deal, who relies on disability and Social Security, was evicted and found herself homeless.
“I had nowhere to go … I was sleeping on my daughter’s couch, in my car, here, there and everywhere. So I called my navigator at Sacramento Self-Help Housing (SSHH) and I told her about my situation and my health problems,” said Deal. “I have a lot of health issues already and I can’t deal with people getting COVID-19 and being (unhoused). So they helped me.”
The organization Deal reached out to —Sacramento Self-Help Housing —is one of several nonprofits working with the County of Sacramento to alleviate homelessness. Funded through the county’s Full Service Rehousing Shelter Program (also known as the Scattered Site Shelter Program), SSHH master-leases 23 multi-bedroom homes throughout the county and provides small-group housing settings, as opposed to large congregate shelters.
“The goal is obviously not only to get people off the streets and under a roof, but we do it in such a way that integrates them back into a healthy living situation,” said Janna Haynes, public information officer with Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance. “Our goal is to identify what it is that’s keeping them in homelessness and how we can help them overcome those challenges so they can stand on their own two feet. And it’s different for people; it’s not always mental health or drug addiction. Sometimes it’s something as simple as help with a deposit.”
Deal, who lives with multiple physical and mental health conditions, was able to move into one of SSHH’s homes where they helped with all basic living expenses such as food and utilities. That allowed her to pay off debts, including back rent related to her eviction. With help from her case manager and housing coordinator, she was able to find permanent housing after four months. When she moved into her apartment in September 2020, County Full-Service Rehousing Shelter Program also helped with moving costs, the rental deposit and helped furnish her home with some basic furniture.
“I didn’t know of any other way in the world that I would be able to do it with my income,” Deal said. “I am thankful because they help me keep my stability, my mental stability and they helped me keep my possessions together. I’ve worked a long hard way to get to where I am today. They help me maintain that and my dignity.”
Uplifting Others - Employee Spotlight
Julie Field has dedicated her career to helping individuals and families in her community. Since 2015, she has served as the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance Homeless Services Program Manager, designing and administering programs that support positive outcomes for persons experiencing homelessness. These services include outreach and crisis response, emergency shelter and rehousing programs, all geared to transition people into stable housing.
In her role, she has witnessed people overcome great challenges to lift themselves up and out of homelessness.
“It always starts and ends with the person; you, as a provider, can only do so much,” said Field.
The gains may be incremental and seem insignificant to the scale of the issue, but to Field and the people she works to support, every win is a huge win.
“When I first began my work in this role, the answer to homelessness always sounded so simple to me; you connect a person to a home,” she said. “What I learned is that the journey to housing is where the complexities and hard work lie, and getting to that destination is nothing short of amazing and inspiring.”