The Sacramento Homeless Crisis: A New Way to Help the Homeless

Column: $60,000 ‘casitas’ and giant awnings: Caruso, Bass pitch cheaper homeless units

Evan Vucci | Special to The Sacramento Bee

Show Caption Hide Caption Homeless camped out in downtown Sacramento on an empty street “It’s an amazing thing to see people sleeping under the Elks building, all right? They aren’t doing it to stay warm or to feed their pets or people,” resident Nick Pomeroy says of the massive homeless shelter in downtown Sacramento.

What if Sacramento’s homeless problem was solved by providing affordable housing for them at the same time city officials turned out giant awnings as extra living space for people to sleep on?

That would be “pretty crazy,” says a former homeless advocate and current administrator of the Sacramento Homeless Outreach Team, which tries to bring the chronically homeless into a stable long-term relationship with a nonprofit housing agency.

But that’s what happens at Caruso Housing, a nonprofit that recently began construction in the hills east of the Capital City that will create four new homeless units for people who can’t be housed on the streets.

“Everyone I speak with loves it,” said Caruso Housing’s executive director, Bill Zinsmeister. “Everybody loves Caruso Housing. The first time I walked in and saw the awning, I said, ‘This is pretty crazy…’ People just love living under the stars. It’s a beautiful view from the top of the building.”

The Sacramento Unified School District has an enrollment of just over 1,300 students. Some families and nonprofits are turning that into as many as five schools that will serve only four or five students each.

What to expect if homeless students take a test.

But a high number of homeless students also means that the school district is having an extreme case of student homeless.

The school board is planning to give more than three dozen such students an opportunity

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