SHOC's office is located in the center of a major gathering place for homeless individuals. We formed in 1987 in response Sacramento City's enactment of an anti-camping ordinance. In 1997, we began to publish Homeward Street Journal, our street newspaper, and in 2002 set up a program for distribution by homeless and nearly homeless vendors. In 2017 there were 71 distributors of Homeward Street Journal with an average monthly participation of 30 homeless and nearly homeless individuals through their distribution of Homeward, reflecting over $18,000 in sales that they were able to earn. In the early 2000's we had a River Cleanup Project, adopting a mile along the American River Parkway, and many camped while we cleaned whole areas of the land surrounding the river and parkway with help from park rangers. We are founders of Sacramento's 'Safe Ground,' now a separate organization that advocates for establishing resident run tent and tiny house communities. In 2008, we formed the Homeless Leadership Project which has continued to meet weekly since that time (now called the Homeless Action Committee or HAC). Ten to fifteen people attend these meetings every week to support and educate each other, to organize events, and plan the Homeward Street Journal content. In 2014 and 2013, we staged a three day camp-out and arts festival for coalition building and to publicize the need for housing.
In 2008, we also brought together local civil rights lawyers and homeless plaintiffs and coordinated a successful lawsuit that exposed Sacramento's heartless and wholesale destruction of homeless property. Continuing this work, we collect incident reports, take surveys, and log in reports from homeless people to keep track of any mistreatment by law enforcement or security personnel. These reports are shared with attorneys, used to monitor violations and used in conjunction with our work with the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). In 2014, we formed a coalition of groups interested in food insecurity and hunger in our region. Our first event was a successful fundraising, educational and networking event, Farm to Every Fork, that became a part of Sacramento's Farm to Fork Week. This event included paying guests and guests that would not be able to afford to attend other Farm to Fork events, encouraging enlightening table conversation. Currently, we work with Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), a coalition of homelessness advocacy organizations in three states, on a regional campaign on federal and local housing policy, and to decriminalize homelessness through education, advocacy, organizing and civil rights legislation for homeless people, and work together on addressing other civil and human rights problems that homeless people face.
SHOC is organized on the principle that homeless individuals themselves can mobilize and help address the crisis of homelessness. In order to accomplish this goal, SHOC engages in leadership training, participates in political advocacy in public forums, publishes Homeward Street Journal, a bimonthly newspaper which spotlights issues of concern to people in poverty as well as the broader community, organizes demonstrations and community events to publicize the urgency of the situation, and, litigates and campaigns for legislation on behalf of homeless and poor people. By developing homeless leadership, we work towards ending homelessness, and towards ensuring that homeless people are afforded their full legal and human rights.