How can leaders address the issue of homelessness in suburbs and communities that are located away from the city core where most homeless funding and resources are distributed? Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, and Carmichael are finding solutions to this issue by forming HART groups. HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Teams) are community focused groups of homeless agencies, businesses, civic entities and churches that work alongside Sacramento Self Help Housing to look at issues and housing solutions specific to their communities for people experiencing homelessness.

One resource HART groups provide are Rotating Faith Based Winter Shelters where faith communities open their doors to welcome 20-30 guests during the winter months for a warm meal, a dry place to spend the night, and breakfast the next morning. This 100% volunteer driven program also provides Housing Counseling and other resource support. As volunteers spend time with each individual during the evenings, they are able to help determine what needs and services would be most beneficial. HART groups are also working to creating mentoring programs and transitional housing solutions in their communities.

Carmichael HART began meeting in August of 2016 in response to many homeless individuals in this community who lacked access to services. There are 12 Carmichael faith communities involved in this effort as well as the San Juan Unified School District. Although Carmichael HART did not have the longevity to launched a rotating shelter program in their community this Winter, several Carmichael churches were able to step in and supply hosts sites for the remaining 3 weeks of the Citrus Heights rotating shelter program. Last night there were volunteers representing 7 different churches who came out to serve.

It is an incredible feat to see 12 congregations come on board to a shared vision so quickly in a community. Scott Young, Executive Director of ATLAS of Carmichael, states this is due in part to the longevity of churches in Carmichael praying together regularly for their community. “We have vibrant church participation, a core of churches praying together intentionally since Luis Palau.” Scott said. “When the idea to form together to create solutions for homeless individuals in our community came on the table, there was immediate church participation. We’ve been praying for Carmichael for years. This is a result of that.”