Last week a sellout crowd of over 130 community members participated in the season finale of Village Square Sacramento’s Dinner at the Square: Homeless. A serious conversation about a serious problem.

Liana Luna, Ryan Loofbourrow, Michele Steeb, Mark Merin and Jack Gallagher.

Liana Luna, Ryan Loofbourrow, Michele Steeb, Mark Merin and Jack Gallagher.

What we heard:

The speakers articulated that individuals experiencing homelessness comes in many shapes and sizes. Causes include unemployment, unaffordable housing, detachment from a support network, addictions, mental health issues and domestic violence.

DSC_0179The potential solutions range from offering vacant lots that are within walking distance to services as a location for legal camping, to using a data-driven coordinated systems approach to match housing and client needs, to offering job training and paths to self-sustainability, to providing better awareness of existing programs.

Tension points included “Not In My Backyard” reactions to homeless camping locations, providing housing before dealing with addictions and a support network can be a recipe for disaster for families, we don’t know what kind of housing is needed.

DSC_0180While a one size fits all solution may not work for our full homeless population, the existing network is fragmented with barriers to entry into shelters and other housing.

“It was powerful to hear someone who had lived with the experience of being homeless explain that we can do a better job of fighting the fragmentation among the service providers that sometimes prevent men and women and their children from receiving the supportive services they need to break the cycle,” said Veronica Blake, CEO of the Placer Community Foundation and Valley Vision Executive Committee Member.

Participants shared:

Convo7“One of the key learnings we’ve had is we’re talking not about ‘homeless people’ but about individuals. We call them by name and get to know them. It’s not a ‘problem,’ it’s a number of people that found themselves in a set of circumstances that need some support.”

“Why does it take an earthquake or hurricane for us to provide shelter and housing? Why can’t we do this for people currently living on the street?”

These are just some of the leading take aways.  We hope to see you at a future event!