[Hpn] Fw: Homeless Women & Children Sleep on Concrete Plaza Outside Sacramento County Board of Supervisors' Chambers

Editor Editor <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Wed, 03 Jul 2002 00:37:43 -0500

From: Joan Burke <advocate4loaves@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue Jul 2, 2002 2:31pm

Dear Friends,

Last Tuesday night, a group of 25 homeless women and children with nowhere else
to go slept on the concrete plaza outside the Sacramento County Board of
Supervisors' Chambers. The Supervisors themselves were on vacation, but
homelessness knows no season nor does it offer vacations from its relentless

The suffering of these homeless women and children is usually hidden. When
darkness falls, they hide in alleys, parking garages or vacant lots. This one
night, they banded together to make their private pain public - to bring it to
the seat of power - in hopes that it will persuade the "No" Supervisors - Roger
Niello, Muriel Johnson and Roger Dickinson - to change their decision and pledge
to provide enough emergency shelter all year long.

Thank you for supporting these women and others like them in their struggle.
We've attached a picture from the Sacramento Bee of one mother and her baby so
that you can see for yourself who it is you are helping.  In order to view the
picture, we suggest you download this small file and view it in Microsoft Word.

Would you please take a moment and write or e-mail the Sacramento Bee about this
tragic situation: babies sleeping outside for lack of shelter. It is a very
effective way to raise community awareness and concern. Letters must be 200
words or less and include your name, postal address and daytime phone number.
The contact info is:

The Sacramento Bee
P.O. Box 15779
Sacramento, CA 95852
E-mail: opinion@sacbee.com

Thank you,

Joan Burke
Director of Advocacy
Loaves & Fishes
P.O. Box 2161
Sacramento, CA 955812
(916) 446-0874


Protesters call for year-round shelter

Sacramento Bee, June 26, 2002
By Walt Wiley -- Bee Staff Writer

Three dozen or so women, many with babies and young children, and most homeless
or formerly homeless, spent the night outdoors again Tuesday.

This time they did it for a cause.

Their campground was the little patch of grass under the trees in front of the
Sacramento County Administration Building, and they did it to protest the
county's refusal to open an emergency women's shelter.

"You really can't imagine what it's like for a woman sleeping in the open if you
haven't been there, but no matter, you would never get away with sleeping in a
place like this if you're on the street. The cops would get you so fast," said
Tony Smith.

Smith, 53, said she spent several months sleeping in the bushes along the
American River before she was able to turn things around in December.

"It's hard. You've got to hide from the police. The cops'll run you off, then
the rangers take their turn," she said.

What is needed, said Smith and the others gathered Tuesday afternoon with their
sleeping bags spread on the grass for the night, is for the county to open a
year-round shelter for women and children.

Yolanda Jones, 22, sprawled on a pallet with her 4-month-old son, said when she
can't find a friend to put her up, she and the baby often will ride buses and
light rail all night.

"Then we'll have to hide in the bushes when the trains aren't running, and I'll
try to get some sleep at Maryhouse (the women's day shelter at Loaves & Fishes)
the next morning," she said.

With her $500 monthly welfare grant, she can scrape up the $54 nightly rate for
a motel room maybe three times a month, she said.

"That's really all I can afford, and I can't rent an apartment because I've
never rented before and I don't have credit," Jones said.

Tim Brown, executive director of Loaves & Fishes, said the answer would be a
change of heart by the "no supervisors."

"If they would just show a little common sense, they would see where they're
going wrong," he said.

The county supervisors who voted against keeping the shelter open have refused
to visit the Loaves & Fishes' Maryhouse day shelter for women to see the need
for themselves, Brown said.

"Roger Niello, Muriel Johnson and Roger Dickinson just want to pretend this
problem doesn't exist, so we're camping here to show them that it does," he

On May 1, the county's emergency winter overflow shelter closed, putting 19
women and 37 children on the street.

Since then, more than 600 women and an uncounted number of children have been
turned away from already-full shelters around Sacramento, said Brown.

"And those are not the same woman counted over and over again. Those are
different individuals," he said.

Tuesday's event was to mark the beginning of a fourth month of fasting by
housing advocates and clergy members who are staging a protest in the
supervisors' office, Brown said. More than 200 fasters have taken their turn
sitting in the offices while participating in a daylong fast.

The supervisors are on their mid-year break this week and were unavailable to


H. C. (Sonny) Covington
Nonprofit Knowledge Specialist
"Remember, to be truly helpful to those called Homeless, we
must make HOPE possible, rather than despair convincing"