Sacramento Self-Help Housing, a highly successful 501(c)(3), tackles the issue of homelessness in a unique way that directly benefits the homeless population as well as homeowners. “Our approach is not building additional housing, but creating more capacity within the current housing stocks,” explains John Foley, executive director. “We lease houses, move in staff members as house leaders, then move people in directly from the streets. For example, in a five-bedroom house, we’ll have a house leader and four recently homeless people living together.”
SSHH has about 100 rental houses throughout Sacramento County and is looking to add more in 2020. “Every person we take off the street is a victory in the battle against homelessness,” says Foley. “Homeless people suffer from a multitude of problems including isolation. In our houses, they become part of a community, receive supportive services and can begin to turn their lives around.”
Launched as a program of Loaves & Fishes in the 1990s, SSHH became its own nonprofit in 2000 and remains a successful cost-effective model two decades later. Funding comes from city, county, state and federal government, and the program offers permanent and short-term interim housing in addition to support services.
“This is a safe, secure way for homeowners to have rental houses with stable government funding and a live-in staff member and to immediately help move homeless people off the streets,” says Foley. “This program is actually saving lives, and we encourage anyone with a home to rent to join us.”
The rental houses are furnished by SSHH so donations of furniture, beds, linens, towels, kitchenware and more are greatly needed. On December 14, SSHH’s Housewarming for the Homeless event takes place at Cal Expo, and the community is encouraged to bring donations to support and brighten the homes of those putting their lives back on track. Financial donations are always welcome as well.