Homelessness in Sacramento County is not just a crisis; it’s a complex challenge that demands significant financial commitment and comprehensive solutions. The Sacramento Bee recently delved into the county’s spending on homelessness, unearthing a budget of $177.5 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Let’s unpack where these dollars are allocated and what it means for the ongoing battle against homelessness.
The Alarming Reality
In the face of a severe and escalating crisis, the numbers are disheartening. For every person who manages to escape homelessness in Sacramento County, three more find themselves without stable housing. It’s a cycle that perpetuates suffering and demands substantial resources.
A Glimpse into the Budget
The county’s response to the homelessness epidemic is encapsulated in a $177.5 million budget. To understand the allocation of funds, we turn to three revealing charts provided by the county in response to a California Public Records Act request.
1. Emergency Shelter and Temporary Housing (45%)
Nearly half of the budget, a staggering $80.4 million, is directed towards emergency shelter and temporary housing. This emphasizes the immediate need for providing unhoused individuals with a roof over their heads.
2. Permanent Housing and Homeless Prevention (10%)
In contrast, $14.9 million is earmarked for permanent housing solutions, representing approximately 10% of the budget. Another $1.9 million is allocated to homeless prevention and diversion efforts.
3. Law Enforcement and Support Programs (5%)
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office receives $2.2 million for its homeless outreach team. Additionally, $2.4 million is invested in the Landlord Engagement and Assistance Program, a crucial initiative incentivizing landlords to house formerly homeless individuals.
4. Behavioral Health Services (16%)
Recognizing the importance of mental health in addressing homelessness, $28.4 million is allocated to behavioral health services catering to the unhoused population.
5. Renters Helpline – An Unconventional Expense (0.1%)
Strikingly, the county categorizes the Renters Helpline, an invaluable resource for tenants facing disputes or habitability issues, as an “other” expense. With $166,747 designated for this helpline, it’s a fraction of the budget but an essential service for those on the brink of homelessness.
Past Efforts and Ongoing Commitments
To gain a holistic perspective, it’s essential to acknowledge that the figures presented don’t encapsulate all initiatives. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, the county allocated $141 million to the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This crucial financial support aided over 10,000 families in retaining their homes.
As Sacramento County grapples with the multifaceted challenge of homelessness, the budget breakdown provides a roadmap for where resources are channeled. It’s a delicate balance between immediate relief and sustainable, long-term solutions. The numbers underscore the urgency of the situation, urging both local authorities and the community to work collaboratively towards lasting change.
In her detailed breakdown of the homeless budget, Emily Halcon, the director of Homeless Services and Housing, outlined the strategies and initiatives. The commitment to transparency is evident, emphasizing the need for collective efforts to tackle homelessness effectively.
As Sacramento County navigates these complexities, it’s a call to action for everyone invested in creating a community where homelessness is not just addressed but eradicated. The budget is not just a financial document; it’s a reflection of the county’s dedication to ensuring that every resident has a place to call home.