Noel Kammermann, executive director of Loaves & Fishes, offers his insight into services for the region’s homeless population. For more from Kammermann, check out “Labor of Love” in our January issue. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.
What has been the biggest change for those providing services to the region’s homeless population?
In recent years, the biggest change has been the sheer number of men, women and children from Sacramento who are experiencing homelessness. According to the latest Point-in-Time report of everyone in Sacramento experiencing homelessness, we saw a 30 percent increase in homelessness, overall. With shelters and other residential programs already operating at or past capacity, this increase in homelessness has resulted in an 80 percent increase in the number of people who are forced to live life on the streets without shelter. With the current housing shortage, we are seeing rising housing costs, which will most likely result in an increase in people experiencing homelessness, as well as greater difficulty in trying to help people move from homelessness to a home of their own.
What do you foresee as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?
I expect to see better coordination of the entry process into the homeless system, as well as better coordination of the services within the homeless system. Having recently come to California from Connecticut, where we had an incredibly effective coordinated system, I see a lot of room for growth in this area. There are an incredible number of nonprofits, faith-based programs and local government programs that all aid people experiencing homelessness, but I feel that there are still too many hurdles and the system [is] too complicated for the individuals who are currently in crisis, and experiencing trauma in their moment-to-moment lives on the streets. Creating a simpler way to access services for those experiencing homelessness will be a major step in the right direction for both the providers of services for the homeless, as well as the men, women and children who are experiencing homelessness.
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