Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) recently honored the Homeless Assistance Resource Teams (HART) of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova as the 8th Assembly District’s 2017 Nonprofit of the Year.
Each year, the California Legislature hosts the California Nonprofits Day Celebration to recognize nonprofit organizations that make significant contributions to their communities.
“I am delighted to select the HART organizations of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova as my nominee for this year’s Nonprofit of the Year,” said Cooley. “The collaboration that HART displays by working with government, businesses, and the faith-based community, personifies an admirable paragon of charity and service.”
HART is a volunteer-run group of businesses, congregations, and individuals that serves as a resource for those facing extreme poverty and chronic instability by connecting people in need with local services. The HART philosophy is rooted in the idea that resources must be accessible in order to be utilized, and the homeless populations of Sacramento County face many barriers between services. Open communication between local government, business owners, faith-based organizations, and passionate individuals fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and helps to bypass some of these major barriers to assist those in need of key services.
Assemblyman Ken Cooley represents the 8th Assembly District. The awards were presented on Wednesday, June 28.
New Report Confirms Increase in Number of People Experiencing Homelessness
Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Despite housing 2,232 individuals and families who were experiencing homelessness in 2016, a new report commissioned by Sacramento Steps Forward and authored by Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research confirms that homelessness has increased across Sacramento county in the past two years.
According to the report, titled “Homelessness in Sacramento County: Results from the 2017 Point-in-Time Count,” the total number of people experiencing homelessness has increased by 30 percent to 3,665 since 2015. Among people who are unsheltered, a subset of the total population who are living outdoors on the street, in tents, cars, or RVs, the number has increased by 85 percent to 2,052. Approximately 31% of people who are unsheltered are chronically homeless, meaning they have experienced prolonged bouts of homelessness and are disabled.
“This report provides a sobering confirmation of what we see in our neighborhoods every day,” said Ryan Loofbourrow, CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward. “It’s frustrating that we could not stop the rising tide of homelessness, but we hope this information will provide regional leaders with the empirical data they need to collaborate on innovative solutions.”
In addition to overall increases in homelessness, the report found a 50 percent increase in the number of homeless veterans since 2015, up to 469 people. The majority of these veterans are unsheltered. Veterans continue to make up approximately 13 percent of the total homeless population.
Individuals who reported continuous homelessness tended to be substantially older and were often encountered in encampments near the American River Parkway, in contrast to younger people who were downtown. Older chronically homeless individuals – between 55 and 64 – were also more likely to report being a veteran or suffer from a disabling medical condition.
"This news affirms what is already evident to the people of Sacramento, the question is what are we going to do about it," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. "We are going to implement the city's $64 million Whole Person Care grant together with our public housing resources to get 2,000 people off the streets as soon as possible. No excuses, no boundaries, action and results are all that matter."
There were drops in the numbers of families and transitional age youth who were found to be homeless, which is a testament to the work of homeless service providers, but these groups are traditionally hard to survey for this type of report so the findings may not accurately capture a true census of these communities.
The report cites the housing drought as a potential factor in the rise of homelessness and explains that the trend in Sacramento is consistent with other communities who have tight housing market conditions. The report also explains the potential impact of flooding on the American and Sacramento rivers and improved statistical methodologies.
The rise in homelessness between 2015 and 2017 in Sacramento County is consistent with similar increases recently reported across the state. At the time the report was written, Alameda County reported a 39 percent increase in homelessness, a 76 percent increase in Butte County, and a 23 percent increase in Los Angeles County.
"This report confirms what we all see with our own eyes: a shocking and unacceptable rise in the number of persons experiencing homelessness. We need to redouble our efforts to increase our stock of affordable housing so that everyone in Sacramento has a simple home of their own," said Joan Burke, who is Chair of Sacramento’s Homeless Continuum of Care Advisory Board and Director of Advocacy Loaves & Fishes
Sacramento Steps Forward commissioned this report as a part of its biennial point-in-time count, which is a county-wide census of people experiencing homelessness. It provides a snapshot of who is homeless on a single night. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop requires local communities to conduct this census every two years as a condition of receiving federal funding for their Homeless Continuum of Care, for which Sacramento Steps Forward is the lead agency.
The point-in-time count was conducted on January 25, 2017 by nearly 400 trained volunteers who fanned out across the county to count and survey people living on the street, in tents, cars, and RV’s, while a data team documented the number of people sleeping in emergency and transitional shelters.
The point-in-time count and this report were made possible thanks to funding from the County of Sacramento, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.
Sacramento Steps Forward is a 501(c)(3) non-profit homeless service agency who, through collaboration, innovation, and service, is working to end homelessness in our region.
Founded in 1989, Sacramento State’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) is an interdisciplinary unit that harnesses the power of scientific research tools to address social problems. Their research and analysis expertise, learned through the hundreds of projects completed for government agencies, nonprofit organizations and the academic community, provides the region with actionable information that can inform key policies and decisions.
On March 21st, 2017, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved four initiatives to reduce homelessness with the intent to improve the family homelessness sheltering system; support the strategic use of transitional housing; establish a low-barrier Full Service Rehousing Shelter, and implement a new supportive Rehousing program that will employ intensive case management and Rehousing supports in conjunction with dedicated Public Housing Authority housing resources.
County Initiative #1, to Redesign Family Homelessness Response and Shelter System seeks to modify contracts to require family shelter to prioritize unsheltered families, establish low barrier requirements, mandate family acceptance of housing services and exit most families to permanent housing within 45 days. The proposed system would simplify access to shelter entry and maximize bed utilization.
With County Initiative #2, Preservation of Mather Community Campus (MCC) Residential and Employment Program, the County would provide replacement funding to continue transitional housing and employment programs at MCC for 183 single adults experiencing homelessness when HUD Continuum of Care funding sunsets on September 30, 2017.
With County Initiative #3, Full Service Rehousing Shelter, the primary purpose of the shelter is to serve those with the highest barriers to traditional services and shelter. Staff proposed that the County fund a local provider to open a 24-hour, low-barrier Full Service Rehousing Shelter designed to shelter and rapidly re-house persons who are difficult to serve in traditional shelters or services. Stable exit will be the primary objective of on-site case management.
County Initiative #4, Flexible Supportive Rehousing Program, would employ a “frequent utilizer” approach to targeting the highest cost users experiencing homelessness to identify eligible participants. The Program would provide a highly flexible solution, employing proactive engagement, “whatever it takes services”, and ongoing housing subsidies to engage and stably re-house the target population.
Today’s report to the Board provided implementation milestones and timeframes, essentially a “roadmap” to reduce homelessness. Comprehensive efforts to reduce homelessness have been augmented in the last year:
On October 18, 2016, the Board held a workshop on homelessness: “Homelessness Crisis Response: Investing in What Works.”
A second workshop was held on November 15, 2016, called “Increasing Permanent Housing Opportunities for Persons Experiencing Homelessness.”
On January 24, 2017, County staff presented a comprehensive package of strategic recommendations to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.
On January 31, 2017, the Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento City Council held a joint workshop on homelessness.
On February 28, 2017, the County hosted a stakeholder meeting with approximately 60 persons in attendance representing 36 organizations to help shape the initiatives.
Department of Human Assistance Director, Ann Edwards, stated, “I am excited about the Board’s commitment to taking these steps to reduce homelessness in our community.”
Local homeless children need your help! Project 680, a grassroots organization led by local residents with the mission of supporting homeless students in Rancho Cordova, is kicking off its Spring Drive on Monday, March 6th to collect clothing and other necessities.
In 2008, a group of community members joined forces to hold a sock drive for the homeless youth in our area. After learning from Folsom Cordova Unified School District (FCUSD) that there were 680 homeless students in our community, Project 680 was born. Today, there are over 800 documented cases of homeless students in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, as well as their 75 infant and toddler siblings.
“Homelessness is something that can affect everyone,” said Reveca Owens, Education Services Liaison for Homeless Students at FCUSD. “These children are lacking basic needs and by providing these necessities to them, we hope to not only uplift the children and work towards ending the issue of homelessness, but also propel them towards academic success.”
The Project 680 team works with FCUSD to determine what the students need, and this year the items needed most are new socks and underwear in all sizes. Hooded sweatshirts, full size hygiene products, and gift cards to local eateries, such as Subway and McDonald’s, will also be accepted for the high school students that are living in shelters.
“These students are in desperate need of our help,” said Mayor Donald Terry. “We cannot solve this problem overnight, but supporting local organizations like Project 680 will make a huge difference in the lives of these homeless youth.”
You can drop off your donations at Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Park Drive, from March 6th through April 7th. Cash and check donations are also accepted. Checks can be made payable to Cordova Community Council, Project 680’s 501c3 sponsor, with “Project 680” in the memo. Visit www.fcproject680.org for more information.
Advanced Home Health, Inc. today announced it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Home Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective care.
Advanced Home Health, Inc. underwent a rigorous onsite survey. During the survey, compliance with home care standards reflecting key organization areas was evaluated, including the provision of care, treatment and services, emergency management, human resources, individual rights and responsibilities, and leadership. The accreditation process also provided Advanced Home Health, inc. with education and guidance to help staff continue to improve its home care program’s performance.
Established in 1988, The Joint Commission’s Home Care Accreditation Program supports the efforts of its accredited organizations to help deliver safe, high quality care and services. More than 6,000 home care programs currently maintain accreditation, awarded for a three-year period, from The Joint Commission.
“When individuals engage a home care provider they want to be sure that provider is capable of providing safe, quality care,” said Margherita Labson, RN, MS, executive director, Home Care Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission. “As the home care setting becomes increasingly popular, it is important that home care providers are able to demonstrate that they are capable of providing safe, high quality care. Accreditation by The Joint Commission serves as an indication that the organization has demonstrated compliance to these recognized standards of safe and quality care.”
Advanced Home Health, Inc. is pleased to receive accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation,” added Angela Sehr, RN “Staff from across our organization continue to work together to strengthen the continuum of care and to deliver and maintain optimal home care services for those in our community.”
The Joint Commission’s home care standards are developed in consultation with health care experts, home care providers and researchers, as well as industry experts, purchasers and consumers. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help organizations measure, assess and improve performance.
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.
One Sacramento-based company has quietly and efficiently carved a niche into the home health care business by providing superlative care for patients and caregivers alike. The “whole-istic” business model of Advanced Home Health and Hospice (AHHH) has earned them not only professional accolades and a thriving business, but a stellar reputation for their positive results for even the most complex patient care. The beating heart of this organization is founder Angela Sehr. Sehr is a woman with a mission and a vision with patient wellbeing in the Sacramento area.
Born in Xian, China, home of the famous Terra Cotta Warriors, Sehr started college at 15 and became a nurse at 18. The youngest of nine children, her siblings are also high achievers with a judge, college professor, engineer and a teacher among her immediate family.
Shyly self-admitted as a teacher’s pet, she loved science from a very young age. She says her mother encouraged her children to all be independent. “Marry well, she said, but always be able to stand on your own two feet,” was her mom’s advice.
Sehr may now be the boss, but she is far from being afraid to roll up her sleeves when it comes to patient care. She paid her dues with years in hands-on nursing. In fact, she still takes care of patients herself, in addition to her many other duties. AHHH offers patients around the clock care, just one of the many aspects that separate them from their competition. “I go out to patients’ homes at 2 in the morning if they need it, just like everyone else on staff,” said Sehr.
Sehr is a Registered Nurse who has worked around the world with patients of all ages and many different health issues. She came to Sacramento, having worked in places like China and Saudi Arabia. She attended Sacramento State’s Nursing program and earned her BSN here, spending over a decade in pediatric care and found her way into Infusion care as a nurse for patients in need of this specialized help. She has built her company on years of caring for infusion patients. Her company carries her compassion forward, providing top-notch, compassionate care for patients and their families.
During a time when healthcare laws and models are in flux. Sehr’s company, AHHH has built a company that successfully and efficiently treats and maintains a base of anywhere from 600 to 800 patients, more than double similar programs of even healthcare giants like full-fledged local hospital systems. To meet the need AHHH has found, the company currently has a staff of approximately 400 highly-trained specialists performing an impressive array of care and support services, and specializes in “complex” patients, often avoiding such patients having to be readmitted to hospitals.
AHHH is as advertised. Staff is on-call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They provide truly advanced wound care, infusion nursing, orthopedic, occupation and physical rehabilitation, speech and swallow function therapy, specialized medical social workers and a chaplaincy ministering to the patients and their loved ones. The tiniest staff member is a therapy dog.
AHHH is a Medicare Certified Home Health Provider. They are licensed by the by the California Department of Public Health. They have provided care for premature babies, pre-and post op patients, patients such as diabetics with wounds that can be nearly impossible to heal. Many of these are patients the hospitals have given up on and AHHH has succeeded where others have failed, improving patient outcome in terms of health and healing. Sehr is intent that her teams utilize the latest technology to treat patients and makes available ultrasound and laser therapy, in addition to debridement if physician ordered.
The Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) alone, per Sehr can be highly effective in treating, diabetic ulcers, venous stasis and arterial ulcers, and many other types of non-healing wounds.
The hospice care that Sehr’s company provides is a growing service, based on industry best practices, but also on her own experiences as a nurse. Most hospice patients they see are given six months or less to live, but that isn’t an outcome set in stone. “We don’t give up,” she says. “We’re not God, but people do ‘graduate’ from hospice. They do get better.”
Hospice care provides comfort care to patients and family. “Advanced hospice nurses are registered nurses specifically dedicated to end-of-life care. They are focused on pain and symptom management for our patients around the clock. In addition to serving the terminally ill, hospice clinical team counsel and educate caregivers and family members on the needs of the patient, guiding them through every issue that may arise. Our hospice nurses work as a part of an interdisciplinary team that develops and manages the care for our patients and their families.”
A vital part of their team are the hospice social workers who are there to support patients and their families. “Our social workers are trained to assist our patients and their families on developing an individualized plan of care, researching ways to relief stress and anxiety by non-medical means, and connecting them with appropriate local resources.
“We understand that our patients and their families may have financial problems. Our social workers are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to provide counseling in these areas, as well as coordinating possible aid from other organizations,” Sehr commented.
What does it mean to be an advanced hospice social worker? According to AHHH, “It means to be a supporter of our patients and their families. Our social workers are trained to assist our patients and their families on developing an individualized plan of care, researching ways to relief stress and anxiety by non-medical means, and connecting them with appropriate local resources.
“A loss of a loved one, even if anticipated, brings a slew of emotions and grief for surviving family and friends. Our hospice bereavement professionals and volunteers are trained to provide counseling and support by understanding the loss and compassionately walking step by step with surviving spouses, children, or parents.”
“To help our patients cope with the end of their life, AHHH provides spiritual services by certified chaplains to promote spiritual and emotional well-being. Our chaplains may also work with the patient’s clergy and coordinate spiritual nourishment and revitalization.”
Sehr credits hospice volunteers for the selfless work they do as part of the organization. “Our hospice volunteers spend time with patients and their loved ones. They run errands and provide caregiver relief, companionship, and supportive services. Volunteers are the backbone of our hospice team.”. Volunteers form bonds with patients and family members. Patients and families often tell volunteers things they feel they can’t tell their loved ones and help open the way for people to talk honestly. Volunteers work alongside paid staff in every area of hospice care.”
AHHH truly treat the entire family, and that includes monthly bereavement support group meeting. “At Advanced Hospice, patients are nearing and passing the end of their life, leaving behind husbands, wives, sons, and daughters,” according to the company website.
“When a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness or is recovering from an injury, our medical professionals, nurses, and therapists work hard to rejuvenate him/her to normal life. In addition to purely medical procedures, medications, and techniques, a huge part of a person’s recovery depends on his/her psychosocial condition.”
AHHH is making a concerted effort to reach America’s veterans. “Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and we believe it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. That’s why our hospice is taking part in the We Honor Veterans program. Our staff understand the unique needs of veterans and are prepared to meet the specific challenges that veterans and their families may face at the end of life.”
AHHH measures its success with data, not just good feelings. Their clinicians log every visit in detail, right down to wound and physical improvement, modality effectiveness, length of visit and many more details. That data is analyzed for the benefit of each patient, but the accumulation of data is used by the company to improve patient outcome and patient satisfaction. The company has recently broken ground on its next project, a free-standing Hospice Facility. While starting small, at 6 beds, it will be the only hospice in the area and unlike any other, due again to Sehr’s experience and personal touch.
The Rancho Cordova branch of the Homeless Assistance Resource Team, or Rancho Cordova HART, this winter will hold their third winter shelter for the local homeless. The plan is for nine churches to take responsibility for one week each from Monday, December 26, through Saturday, February 25.
Six sites are ready to go, but three are still needed. “We need our Christmas miracle,” said Karen Edwards, leader of Rancho Cordova HART. Churches considering taking on a week’s sheltering should send some volunteers to the first or second host sites to see how it’s done, she said. The host sites can answer any questions, and the other churches can see how possible it is to do it themselves.
“I have great faith that we’ll fill those,” Edwards said. “But I know we have to do our due diligence, too, we have to actively pursue and recruit and do the big ask.”
The intake site is the same location as last year, Way of Life Church at 10415 Folsom Blvd., between Coloma Road and Mills Park Drive. Guests can be there at 4:30 p.m. and must be in line by 5 p.m. even if they were guests the previous evening. “The doors open at 5 p.m. and the first 30, that’s the max that we can take,” said intake coordinator Inez Reyes. After registration, the guests will be taken to the host site, where they will receive a hot dinner and be given a safe, warm place to sleep. In the morning, they will be bussed back to the intake site with a breakfast bag and some food for later in the day.
Reyes said that Pastor Mike Tempke of Way of Life Church and his volunteers deserve a lot of credit for all they do in providing the intake site and associated services. The Church of Christ provides transportation to each host site, and back each morning. All the services are provided by volunteers.
In each of the previous years, HART has learned more about how to maximize the benefit for the guests. “We have a lot more knowledge, we’re more equipped,” said Reyes.
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District supplies a liaison, and that helps to ensure that any known homeless students at least have shelter for this period, and to see what else can be done for them. “Every week, once a week, during our whole season, (Sacramento) Self Help Housing will be there, doing housing counseling, DHA will come with resources, and Elica Health will come offering medical,” Edwards said.
Rancho Cordova HART has been helping in other ways, in addition to the winter shelter. HART has partnered with the veterans stand-downs and helped at their events, and plans its own mini veterans’ stand-down for the spring. HART also has started a mentoring program, coinciding with the shelter season. “We pair up someone who will come alongside (the homeless) – not do the work for them, but help them connect the dots, to get to their resources,” Edwards said. “Sometimes the (homeless) are so overwhelmed with day-to-day existence that they don’t even know where to start.”
Edwards said that there are some chronically homeless who may always be on the street. Nevertheless, she said, “I do believe that there is a percentage of our guests that we will not see this year because they’ve gotten into housing.” Edwards estimates that 10 to 15% of last year’s guests were able to obtain housing because they were veterans. Since last year, Rancho Cordova HART has been mentoring Citrus Heights and Carmichael HART in setting up their own winter shelters, which are to be in place this season. That adds resources for people in those communities.
“It’s definitely helping people,” said Tom Beigle, coordinator for St. John Vianney Catholic Church’s host site. “It seems inadequate for what the real need is, but we have to start somewhere.”
Rancho Cordova HART recently attained its official nonprofit status, which gives it its own authority and convenience in carrying out its functions.
For more information about Rancho Cordova HART, e-mail RanchoCordovaHART@outlook.com or see www.ranchocordovahart.org/.