'Homeless advocates fault Sacramento County over lack of winter shelters' | The Sacramento Bee

originally posted Sept. 22, 2011

By Cynthia Hubert

Homeless advocates on Thursday lashed out at Sacramento County for failing to fund winter shelter beds during the cold and rainy nights ahead.

For the first time in memory, the budget-strapped county has eliminated funding for the seasonal shelter, potentially leaving hundreds of people to fend for themselves on the streets this winter.

"We have 41 days until winter shelter historically starts, and there is no funding and no money," said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance. "It's unconscionable."

County officials are in the process of turning over homeless programs to a nonprofit organization, Sacramento Steps Forward, that will manage millions of dollars in federal funds for homeless programs. But the new nonprofit "has neither the mandate, responsibility or capacity" to operate winter shelter, Erlenbusch said.

"The county is abdicating its responsibility," he said.

Ben Burton, the new director of Sacramento Steps Forward, said foundations, private citizens and businesses must step forward to fill the funding gap.
"This is a community issue, not just a governmental issue," he said. "We need to ring the alarm that winter is coming. Instead of pointing fingers, we need to all join together and help."

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see original story at: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/09/22/3930867/homeless-advocates-fault-sacramento.html