Soroptimists “Support” Homeless Teen Girls with New Bras

By Sheryl Longsworth, President Soroptimist International Local Chapter  |  2019-01-09

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Soroptimist Int’l of Rancho Cordova & Gold River club, working with the Folsom Cordova Homeless Student Services Program, purchased new bras on Thursday, October 4, for seventeen homeless teen girls who are required to take a physical education class. “I learned several years ago, that many homeless teen girls were refusing to dress down for PE, because they were so embarrassed by the condition of their undergarments. Wearing a new bra that fits well, is comfortable and pretty, make girls feel confident and good about themselves. Homeless girls already have enough to worry about that affects their self-esteem and confidence, they shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed about what they’re wearing under their clothes,” says Sheryl Longsworth, co-founder and current president of the club. “It is our club’s hope that by giving these girls to pick out bras THEY want to wear, not just wear what was donated to them, that their confidence and self-esteem will increase, which, hopefully, will result in improved academic performance,” says Longsworth.

Since the club started this program eight years ago, they have served over 200 girls in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. “Every girl we’ve served is so appreciative and grateful. They usually give us big hugs and some are even in tears because we care so much about them and want them to be successful in life,” says Longsworth.

If you would like to help the club make a difference in girls’ lives like the “Supporting” Homeless Teen Girls project and would like more information about the club, please visit http://www.soroptimistranchocordova.org/ and/or email Sheryl at siranchocordova@soroptimist.net.

Soroptimist is an international 501(c)3 non-profit organization who seeks to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. The name, Soroptimist, means "best for women," and that's what the organization strives to achieve. Soroptimists are people at their best, working to help other women to be their best. Please send an email to siranchocordova@soroptimist.net to receive more information about Soroptimist International of Rancho Cordova & Gold River, how to become a member, or just learn how you can volunteer with our club members or visit http://www.soroptimistranchocordova.org/.

Earlier this year, Governor Newsom announced that he was going to make housing his top priority, and called for 3.5 million new homes to be built in California within six years.  I believe this is a laudable top priority, and have previously written about the great need in our region for more housing. To start with, Governor Newsom wisely announced $500 million in awards to cities and counties that meet new, short-term housing goals.  I believe the enticement of these funds can propel real change, and I hope Sacramento County will win some of this money.

Unfortunately, Governor Newsom coupled this “carrot” with an extremely dangerous “stick”, in the form of withholding gas tax money from cities and counties that don’t meet the regional housing targets set by the state.  This has shaken virtually the entire state, as 97% of California cities and counties (including Sacramento County) are not hitting their housing targets.

This plan has a fundamental flaw in logic because it ties gas tax money to production goals, when counties are only accountable for planning.  We should, and do, encourage housing through the land use process, but the decision whether to build more housing comes largely from factors outside our control.  We cannot force builders to build, nor can we force financial institutions to lend the builders money.

Even when projects have been approved, lately we are seeing production slowed down because the builders cannot find enough carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. to do the work, in part because the state has seemingly abandoned vocational education.  Too few schools have a “shop class”, and too many children have been told that college was the only route to success, when in reality jobs working in the trades can often pay more than jobs that require a college education.

Beyond that, I believe it’s wrong to threaten our gas tax road funding, especially after voters went to the polls last November and voted to keep the gas tax.  I’m not sure the gas tax repeal would have failed, had voters known the funding could be taken away for something entirely out of their control.

Our roads cannot bear even a small reduction in funding.  As I wrote about earlier this year, even with the gas tax in place, the County needs an additional $15-20 million yearly just to maintain the roads at the current level, or an additional $50 million yearly to get them to a standard people would describe as “good”.  

If Governor Newsom is serious about wanting to build 3.5 million new homes in California, beyond incentives he needs to look at the high cost of construction.  It is extremely expensive for a builder in California to conform to the unique regulations contained within the California Environmental Quality Act, and the enormous California Building Code grows larger each year.  These regulations are part of the reason that a home in California is 2.4 times more expensive than a comparable home in Texas.

There are potential solutions to this housing crisis, but threatening counties like Sacramento for a problem out of our control ignores the root of the problem, and is ultimately doomed to fail.

Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Homelessness and housing instability forces families to make hard choices about the necessities of life and can make a significant impact on a family’s overall well-being. For families receiving reunification and family maintenance services through child welfare, Sacramento County is helping to address these housing needs with the Bringing Families Home housing program.

The goal of this program is to reduce the number of families experiencing homelessness, increase family reunification, and prevent foster care placements.

Bringing Families Home is a California Department of Social Services grant-funded program that began July 2017 and has already supported 87 families in need of housing services. Over the next year, the program will secure housing for a minimum of 100 Sacramento County families who are completing court-ordered services and working towards family reunification.

“Housing is a basic need and when parents are experiencing homelessness and housing instability, this need is often prioritized over the required services needed for reunification,” said Sacramento County Program Planner, Niku Mohanty-Campbell.

“Child Protective Services works to provide housing stability while also allowing parents to better engage in services and address the issues that brought them to the attention of child welfare. Bringing Families Home allows for more safe and timely reunification and can prevent future foster care placements, overall supporting better child welfare outcomes,” he stated.

To address the housing needs of Child Protective Services families, the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services has partnered with the County’s Department of Human Assistance along with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, and other organizations to provide families with an initial assessment, service and support to obtain housing, and short term case management once housing is located.

Families are referred to the Bringing Families Home program by their social worker. The program is voluntary, but participation in Family Reunification or family maintenance services is required for program eligibility. The program prioritizes families that are homeless, however, can serve those that are facing housing instability, which includes when a family is at imminent risk of losing their housing.

“Bringing Families Home works to address the barriers to obtaining and maintaining permanent housing for those who are homeless, at-risk of becoming homeless or are receiving Family Reunification or Family Maintenance services,” said Michelle Callejas, Sacramento County Director of Child, Family and Adult Services.

“Through this grant and partnership, we are able to help families find a house, pay up to a double deposit and provide families a rental subsidy for three months after they move in,” she added.

If your family or a family you know is receiving child welfare services and is interested in participating in the housing program, contact Sacramento County Program Planner, Niku Mohanty-Campbell or email CPSBFHHouseReferral@saccounty.net.

Bringing Families Home is one of several County programs helping families and individuals experiencing homelessness transition to permanent housing stability. Ongoing County programs include the County’s Flexible Supportive Re-Housing Program, the CalWORKS Housing Support Program as well as new programs, such as the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP), an $8 million re-housing program funded through the new State Homeless Emergency Aid Program.

Launching in May, FHP will help resolve homelessness for up to 600 households, including vulnerable seniors, those engaged with criminal justice, unsheltered individuals and families, and those staying in an emergency shelter.

For additional information on County homeless activities, visit Sacramento County’s Responding to Homelessness webpage.

 

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada (VOA) has launched a 40-bed transitional housing and employment services program for veterans experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County.

The program provides furnished temporary housing in individual studio apartments, meals, life skills and financial management classes, pre-employment and vocational training, employment placement assistance, substance abuse support, housing location and transportation services to single male and female veterans. This program is funded through a grant awarded to VOA from the Veterans Administration and is the only “Service Intensive Transitional Housing” program for Veterans in Sacramento County.

“We are very excited to add this invaluable program to Volunteers of America’s existing services for veterans in Sacramento County at Mather Community Campus,” says VOA Division Director, Sherman Haggerty. “This program will allow a unique group of veterans the extra time and help needed to meet their goal of achieving independent living.”

This program offers the first new transitional housing beds for homeless veterans in Sacramento County, in over three years. The housing units are conveniently located at VOA’s Mather Community Campus adjacent to VOA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program and the Veteran Service Center all located on the same campus. These housing units are also conveniently located near Sacramento’s Veterans Hospital Administration Hospital. Additional housing units are currently under construction at the Mather campus which will increase local housing inventory.

Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada provides specialized programs for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in the Greater Sacramento area. Services include rapid re-housing, case-management and homeless prevention. A large focus is heavily placed on increasing veteran men's and women's employment possibilities through life and job skills classes. 

Founded locally in 1911, the Northern California & Northern Nevada office of Volunteers of America is one of the largest providers of social services in the region. The professional paid staff operates more than 50 programs in categories that include: crisis housing, supportive housing, employment and training services, and corrections. In fact, Volunteers of America provides shelter or housing to nearly 1,800 men, women and children every night in Northern California. Nationally, Volunteers of America helps more than 2.5 million people annually in more than 400 communities. Learn more about Volunteers of America Northern California & Northern Nevada at  www.voa-ncnn.org.

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - In 2017, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved funding and implementation of four major initiatives to address critical needs of those experiencing homelessness and to help reduce the homeless population. Subsequently, two associated augmentations were added to further address the needs of all vulnerable population groups. The first programs began in October of 2017, several began in 2018 and many are in the process of becoming operational. In just one year’s time, the County has achieved phenomenal results from these new initiatives. 

  • Improve the Family Crisis Response and Shelters (October 2017)
    • 146 families served in shelter
    • 50 moved to permanent housing
  • Preserve Mather Community Campus (October 2017)
    • 351 individuals served in transitional housing
    • 116 moved to permanent housing
  • Full Service Rehousing Shelter (March 2018)
    • 91 individuals in scattered-site shelters
    • 19 moved to permanent housing
  • Flexible Supportive Re-housing Program (February 2018)
    • 191 individuals enrolled
    • 94 moved into permanent housing
  • Transitional Aged Youth (May 2018)
    • 115 served with prevention, diversion and intervention services
    • 35 moved to permanent housing
    • 32 maintained housing through services
    • 17 entered emergency shelter
  • Unincorporated County Navigation Services (April 2018)
    • 177 served through outreach and rehousing services
    • 30 moved to permanent housing

 

In total, 416 individuals have moved into permanent housing since the start of the first initiative in October 2017. 

“We are thrilled to share the success that our programs have had in this first year. In some programs, success has been demonstrated in mere months,” said Ann Edwards, Director of the Department of Human Assistance. “We are reaching people we have never been able to engage and they are seeing a real difference in their lives.”

On Oct. 16, 2018, the County Board of Supervisors endorsed the investment strategy for nearly $20 million in new State funding to combat homelessness in partnership with Sacramento Steps Forward and the City of Sacramento. On Dec. 11, the Board of Supervisors approved the acceptance of more than $11 million that the Department of Human Assistance will directly administer, building of the existing initiatives to reduce homelessness.

State funding comes through the State’s new Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) and the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program. The funds will provide additional emergency shelter for both families and individuals through Emergency Family Shelter and the Full Service Rehousing Shelters (FSRS). The FSRS is a scattered-site model using master leasing of vacant homes in the region to house up to five persons in addition to a fulltime house monitor. Residents are provided with intensive case management services and rehousing assistance to help them exit the program into stable, permanent housing with the support they need.

The funding also will create a Flexible Housing Pool (building on the Flexible Supportive Rehousing Program) that will offer both services and re-housing assistance to help households in shelter or working with navigation programs to move into housing more quickly.

For the first time, clients experiencing homelessness who are engaged in Adult Protective Services or jail diversion will be offered this practical assistance to resolve their homelessness. The County will also administer a new expungement clinic to help remove barriers to housing and employment. 

To be eligible to administer and receive the HEAP funds, the Board of Supervisors declared a shelter crisis on Oct. 16. Other cites declaring a crisis and participating in the program include the City of Sacramento, Elk Grove and Citrus Heights.

On Dec. 12, The Board of Supervisors heard and adopted the proposed Sacramento County Homeless Plan that is required to facilitate participation in the State’s No Place Like Home (NPLH) program. This program provides funding for new permanent supportive housing for people who are experiencing homelessness, chronic homelessness, or who are at risk of becoming chronically homeless, and who are also living with a serious mental illness and in need of mental health services. In NPLH developments, the County will provide a 20-year commitment to comprehensive services, including behavioral health services.

In addition to meeting State requirements for NPLH, the County’s Plan serves as a building block for all partners within Sacramento County to implement shared strategies that make a measureable impact on homelessness. The Plan was endorsed by the City of Sacramento and County Continuum of Care on Dec. 12.

“The County Homeless Plan reflects countless hours of collaboration with County departments, community groups, stakeholders and other jurisdictions within our region,” said Cindy Cavanaugh, Director of Homeless Initiatives. “The Plan lays out comprehensive strategies and concrete actions for Sacramento over the next several years. While pleased with early results of our homeless initiatives, this Plan says that, as a community, we are not letting up.”

Sacramento County will be eligible for $5,087,737 through the noncompetitive NPLH funding for housing developments, and is eligible to apply for a share of $400 million in competitive funds. The Board of Supervisors will approve development applications for the first round of NPLH competitive funding on Jan. 29. 

With the initial success of the Sacramento County homeless i​nitiatives and additional funding sources for expansion, collaborative community partnerships, and dedicated service providers, Sacramento County recognizes that change is possible for our community and the lives of its valued residents.

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CRPD Donates Gifts to Homeless Children

By Cady Nagy-Chow, CRPD  |  2019-01-06

CRPD staff members were honored when leadership presented them with this opportunity to give back. Photo courtesy CRPD

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - On December 17, Cordova Recreation & Park District (CRPD) staff donated 40 gifts to 10 homeless children in partnership with the Folsom Cordova Unified School District Homeless Student Services. CRPD “adopted” these four homeless families for the holiday season, reflecting a fierce commitment to their mission to serve the needs of their diverse and growing community.

Director of this endeavor, CRPD’s Administrative Specialist Gail Bair, reached out to the school district a few years ago to see how CRPD could help the homeless in the community. “The children we provide for are in kindergarten through high school who live locally but don’t have homes. The wonderful thing about the Homeless Student Services program is that throughout the year they provide basic needs that we take for granted like clothes, hygiene products and school supplies, for these children. So, what is magical about this partnership during this season is we can step it up a notch and help give these kids elements of a childhood with games, coloring books, stuffed animals, etc.” Bair said.  

CRPD staff members were honored when leadership presented them with this opportunity to give back. “I love to give back because there are so many families in need out there and I have the opportunity to help them have the best Christmas possible. It’s part of why I love working here,” Office Assistant Jacqueline Yoos said.

Recreation Coordinator Chase Michelotti agrees with Yoos that the spirit of giving back is what makes CRPD such a great work environment. “Having the chance to contribute to something greater brings out the best in everyone. I believe it is the responsibility of those who can give to give, so the presence of opportunities like these is really important in my work place,” Michelotti said.

CRPD staff wishes these families and yours a joyous holiday and Happy New Year!

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Hats for the Homeless

By Margaret Snider  |  2018-12-26

Elder Barrows, center and Elder Dunyon offer hats to a homeless woman during the recent storm as City of Rancho Cordova senior code enforcement officer looks on with a smile. Photo by Gary McFadyen

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - A storm with heavy rain and wind had just passed through Rancho Cordova the night before. Married couple Eric and Cathi Niven, with six young women and 10 young men, all missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all wearing Santa hats, made their way through the puddles near Folsom Boulevard. They came bearing bags of knitted and handmade hats, scarves, quilts and blankets for the homeless. City of Rancho Cordova Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) members Kerry Simpson and Russ Ducharme worked with the group as liaison between the missionaries and the homeless.

Eric and Cathi Niven are from Monticello, Utah. Cathi Niven told Monticello resident Jeri Burt how much she would like to help the homeless in the Sacramento area. Before long over 200 items had been made and shipped to Sacramento. “(Cathi) called me and asked me if I could make some scarves and stuff,” said Jeri Burt. “Of course I already had a jump start on it.”  Burt makes a practice of forming groups to crochet hats and scarves for those in need, and many from Monticello and La Sal, Utah, were excited to be part of it. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem like you can do near enough, but just touching one person at a time is just a huge blessing,” Burt said.

Simpson said that homeless people are not spending their days looking for work or finding a way to get income. “They’re thinking about how they’re going to feed themselves, where are they going to sleep?” Simpson said. “When they’re out in the elements, where are they going to get that warm coat when the weather changes?” 

William Hawkins, 68, accepted a hat. He used to be a maintenance man and worked for general contractors. He was a character actor and backstage tech in Broadway shows. Then he had two heart attacks and heart failure, lost his place and has been homeless for two years. He’s seen a lot of suffering, and gone through it himself. “I’m not saying things I’m thinking about, I’m saying things I know,” Hawkins said. “Because what I think isn’t worth a dime, it’s what I know that counts.”  Hawkins was glad to see the young people helping others, and said it shows how things are improving. “These young people are (helping), Hawkins said. “You go to get on the light rail, they want to help you, they hold doors for you, they’re more than happy to.” 

Cathi Niven took a picture of Hawkins and another man receiving hats. “We sent (the picture) immediately to the lady who had actually done the knitting, and she was excited to see that,” Cathi Niven said. The missionaries timed the distribution to coincide with the first day of the annual Latter-day Saint global initiative called Light the World. Thousands participate in individual and group service from December 1 to 29. (see www.lighttheworld.org).

The City of Rancho Cordova Homeless Outreach Team includes Simpson, who coordinates, two Rancho Cordova police officers, Ducharme as senior code enforcement officer for the City and two individuals for cleanup. A homeless navigator travels the City helping the homeless obtain IDs, driver’s licenses, social security cards, whatever is needed. “Team members’ positions overlap,” said Rancho Cordova communications officer, Ashley Downton, “with the core purpose to build relationships with homeless individuals and families, and provide services, education, and resources in partnership with local organizations, to help them become self-sufficient.” 

While the missionaries were finding people who needed the hats and quilts, Rancho Cordova resident Jennifer Barnes came by, who used to be homeless herself. Now with a job and a place to stay, she doesn’t forget those among whom she lived. Daily she comes out to check on people she knows, to bring them something or just see how they are getting along. “It’s really hard,” Barnes said. “You have a choice to either rise above it or get stuck. There are some people who get stuck.”  The missionaries gave Barnes a pile of the homemade items on December 1 to distribute to people she sees, and Ducharme spoke with her about helping the City to make contact with people who need help.

“It’s a collaborative effort between many people in the community,” Downton said. “Together we can make a difference and help change peoples’ lives.” 

This can happen by connecting not only with people in our community, but also joining the efforts of people in Monticello, Utah, with others in Rancho Cordova, California.

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