Wed, Jul

California Counted Its Homeless Population, But Can It Track The Money?


CALIFORNIA HOMELESS - As she headed to her car after two hours of counting and surveying Sacramento’s homeless population, the state’s top housing official acknowledged there is a long road ahead.

“We’re building the system, building the capacity, building the data, and communities are rising to the occasion. I know people are really frustrated because they feel like they don’t see that change,” said Lourdes Castro Ramírez, secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. “But I don’t think you can see change that is going to be long-lasting overnight.”

As she spoke, just a few blocks away, a homeless encampment was going up in flames. 

No one was injured, unlike a fire earlier the same day at a San Francisco encampment that killed a woman and that Gov. Gavin Newsom called “unconscionable.” But dozens of people — who had been camping beneath the on-ramp to Highway 50 on one of the coldest nights of the year — watched as firefighters sprayed hundreds of gallons of water at the inferno they had once called home.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said John Vasquez, who said he had been living there for nearly two years. “We don’t have anything. Everything got burned. Clothes, tents, IDs.”

The 911 call came from another volunteer for Sacramento’s point-in-time count, a Census-like tally of people experiencing homelessness that took place across California last week. As those numbers trickle in over the summer, experts believe the data will help illustrate the reality Californians can no longer ignore: Homelessness has reached a tipping point.

Read More. 


(Manuela Tobias is the housing reporter for CalMatters. Her stories focus on the political dynamics and economic and racial inequities that have contributed to the housing crisis in California and its potential solutions.)


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