So I’m Homeless in Sacramento. Now What?

by Isidore Mika Székely Manes-Dragan

Here’s an all-too common scenario: You just lost your job, your landlord has evicted you from your own bedroom apartment, and now you’re on the streets. Whatever your story may be, you ask yourself this question: What’s my next step?

You want to be housed again, but before that, you need to find stability. That means food and water, shelter, and hopefully facilities with running water. Services in Sacramento are incredibly sparse, and the waiting list for what little is available is incredibly long. But no worries, they say!  Getting set up is just as easy as calling 2-1-1: How convenient, right? Well, although calling might be as easy as dialing a three-digit number, the rest isn’t so simple.

Sacramento voters passed Measure O in 2022. Measure O requires that the city offer adequate shelter to homeless people under threat of being displaced by sweeps, but according to Crystal Sanchez of the Sacramento Homeless Union, the city often considers a referral to the 211 service an adequate alternative to shelter. But it isn’t.  

There are 2,500 people on the waitlist for shelters in Sacramento, and the Sacramento Coordinated Access System reports that over 32,000 of the calls they receive each year are about shelter, she said. Many callers don’t even make it on the waitlist. 

So let’s say you get the waitlist but you still need additional help in the meantime. Food and safety are provided by day at the Loaves & Fishes compound. Loaves & Fishes provides a men’s wash house, breakfast and lunch, as well as counseling and health services within Friendship Park, starting at 7 a.m. every day. Also located within Friendship Park is the office of the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee (SHOC), which runs a vendor program where unhoused community members can pick up copies of Street Sheet to sell for $2 each. The vendors keep all of the money. The SHOC office is open from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. every day. The Homeless Union also maintains a regular list of open food pantries from which the community can freely take, which can be viewed on its website and social media. In addition to the services provided within Friendship Park, Loaves & Fishes also provides a kennel to take care of guests’ pets, the “Mustard Seed” schooling program for children ages 3 to 15, and legal/jail services. 

In front of Sacramento City Hall every Saturday at 12 p.m., Punks With Lunch Sacramento provides meals, feminine products and harm reduction tools for the benefit of the homeless community. The group takes requests for items such as clothing, tents and health care items.

Camp Resolution is a unique feature in Sacramento’s homeless landscape. Famous for retaking land promised by the state when it failed to deliver on a promise of housing, Camp Resolution provides shelter to 50 vehicularly housed guests. The RVs on site do not have running water, but they are better than staying out on the streets. Camp Resolution fights for the homeless community of Sacramento, and is currently in a legal battle with the city over housing opportunities that the city offered in the residents’ leases. 

Camp Resolution has a waitlist. People who progress to this stage and apply for a spot there  meet with encampment council members for an interview. Then the community members vote on whether to admit the applicant. Those who are allowed entry can look forward to a community full of art, understanding and communal strength.

Despite the continued threat of sweeps, Sacramento’s unhoused residents have until recently had no alternative to shelter that the city and state provided. As long as this crisis continues, the city might never see an end to homelessness. If so, it’s up to the community to provide relief. 

For more resources not listed here, check the Sacramento Homeless Union’s list of citywide resources for health care, legal defense, human trafficking resources and more at