Returning Dignity, Restoring Lives, Rebuilding Community

Sponsored by SMUD for City of Refuge Sacramento

Back By Jennifer von Geldern

Founded by Loren and Rachelle Ditmore, City of Refuge Sacramento supports people as they transform their lives, ultimately helping their communities thrive. This nonprofit is helping to “Return Dignity, Restore Lives, and Rebuild Community” in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. 

Previously known for crime and poverty, Oak Park is experiencing a rebirth with recent redevelopment. “An emerging community has many benefits, but longtime residents can be priced out and tight-knit neighborhoods disrupted,” says Rachelle. “Community is everything to people in impoverished areas. By offering housing, employment development and youth-engagement services, we create inclusive space for these residents to stay a part of Oak Park.” 

City of Refuge’s housing program offers emergency and long-term transitional housing for women and their children who have been abused, exploited or come from broken backgrounds. The organization’s employment arm provides job readiness training and helps place women from their housing program and transitional-age youth in jobs with partner businesses, including HauteBird restaurant. Their youth engagement branch operates multiple programs in 10 area schools from elementary through high school.

“We don’t rescue people; we just support people who are ready to change themselves.” Rachelle Ditmore, cofounder and housing director, City of Refuge Sacramento

The first City of Refuge home opened 10 years ago, and it has served nearly 300 women and children. Facilities currently consist of two area homes that can house 16 women and children and a community center on Martin Luther King Boulevard. However, fundraising is underway for a new comprehensive facility adjacent to the community center. 

City of Refuge looks to raise $5 million by 2021 for its new four-story facility that will provide permanent supportive housing for up to 40 families, HauteBird restaurant for job development and a trauma-informed child-care center. “It’ll be a one-stop shop for life transformation for those who really want to better themselves,” says Loren. “We encourage the business community to help us build this center to ensure opportunity for everyone in Oak Park and beyond.”

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