Churches, Community Leaders Host Meeting on Housing Growing Number of Homeless

SACRAMENTO -- A group of church leaders held a panel Wednesday night with members of the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to address the growing number of homeless. Hundreds attended the community action meeting.

Starting with stories from former homeless pulling their lives together, hundreds gathered from several different churches, for an update on the growing number of homeless in Sacramento County.

"We're tired of continuing to put bandaids on a problem, we have the resources to fix this," said Dean Brian Baker with Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

Baker said his cathedral has allowed homeless to sleep inside for the past eight years.

"If the county, and the city, and the nonprofits, and the churches work together, we can cure homelessness," Baker said.

Put on by the Sacramento Area Congregations Together, Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other city and county leaders weighed in on the problem.

"From the parkway, from the streets, into decent housing with the services that are going to help them overcome their homelessness. That's what this is about," Steinberg said.

Baker believes more housing is the simple answer.

"In three or four years, we can wake up in the morning and go down the street and have homeless people housed," Baker said.

But in downtown Sacramento, many who work there, like Brian Henderson, say there is a more immediate problem -- lack of sanitation.

"I see a lady do a No. 2 on a tree," Brian Henderson said.

"The whole Sacramento downtown smells like urine, and the reason why, because they don't have no place where the homeless can actually use a restroom," Henderson said.

Henderson understands why businesses don't offer their restrooms but feels the city could do more.

"I don't know why, it's the easiest solution, to build a restroom over in the park," Henderson said.

At the end of the meeting, city, county and community leaders were asked to sign a pledge making a personal commitment to end homelessness.