Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee

The Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee's mission is to amplify the voice of the homeless and low income community to accomplish economic and social justice.

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Address: PO Box 952
Sacramento, CA 95812
County or Parish: Sacramento
Executive Director: Paula Lomazzi
Contact Email:
Primary Phone: 916-442-2156
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 includes 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.
Currently there are over 2,000 individuals in Sacramento with no other option but to live outdoors because there is not enough shelter or homeless housing programs available. This is an 80% increase from 2015. Also, there is a law against being homeless without shelter in Sacramento and most cities in the United States, even though there is no alternative for them. We need to provide more programs and affordable housing in our community in order to end homelessness. Until we accomplish that feat, we need to change the laws and policies against people living outdoors; we need to provide or allow homeless people to survive by setting up a tent to protect themselves from the elements. Community members are needed to help convince our city leaders to change unjust laws against the status of being homeless and to help find emergency solutions to people without access to shelter or housing.

Our organization is operated mostly by volunteers that are homeless, formerly homeless and other supporters. We incorporated last year and are currently waiting on our tax exempt status to be approved. This will give us the ability to hire staff that we think would help us to strengthen the organization into the future. We need more funding and to raise our budget for the ability to hire staff. We could also use help to accomplish those goals with expert advise.

Homeward Street Journal has recently recruited enough local and dedicated writers to fill our paper but we will eventually like to expand content by increased publishing or adding pages. We welcome writers that have interest in social justice or homelessness on a volunteer basis to submit articles. We recently started charging our distributors for the cost of printing and have lost some distributors because of that. We would like to increase distributors through outreach, just to offer others the opportunity to increase their income. We are also considering starting a writers workshop and would need experts to help with that.
Our top needs:
  1. Funding: Program - We are interested in reorganizing Homeward Street Journal operations and strategies.
  2. Volunteers - Even though we currently have many homeless volunteers, we continue to need additional volunteers with backgrounds in leadership, as well as expertise in media, writing, and organizational development.
  3. Technology - SHOC is in need of a projector for presentations for speaking engagements, meetings and events. ($600 or in-kind)
  4. Volunteers - Participation from community members in events and meetings, volunteers to help organize events and meetings, and organizational endorsements of the Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign and Right to Rest.
  5. Funding: Unrestricted - Up to $15,000 for general operating expenses. We are planning on revising our budget when we get ready to hire part-time staff.
'I first became involved in SHOC in 1997 when I was homeless. Homeward Street Journal was newly formed and I thought it a good opportunity to express my views and share what I learn through writing articles and cartoons. Working with others that were also homeless lead to common interests and goals that we began to express through organizing for solutions. We became more vocal, expressing our concerns to civic leaders, Homeward readership, and to service providers and advocates. We formed a river clean-up project, eventually adopting a mile along the American River Parkway for several years, where we cleaned up the messes complained about by the community, learning to work in coalition with the Rangers and the American River Parkway Foundation.' 'This initial campaign lead to us connecting to other homeless advocacy groups, housing advocates, service providers, and individuals, which eventually lead us to the present day where we support and are supported in a large network of community partners. I continued to be involved in SHOC even after I secured housing. While I was homeless there were not enough shelter or housing options for everyone, yet there was a law against living without shelter or housing. This fact was harder for me than having to face the elements of living outdoors, that a law enforcement official would be obligated to tell me that it is against the law for me "to be here" no matter where I happened to be. I continue working with SHOC mainly because I do not want the community I live in to be this insensitive to those that are only "guilty" of extreme poverty, and we are very active in trying to change this. I also continue because I believe in the model of providing a way for those experiencing homelessness to add their voice and their place at the table to help address the many issues facing those that are homeless and live in poverty.' 'SHOC also has been helpful for people developing leadership skills, as it has helped me. I am now the Executive Director of SHOC, plus serve as board of director for Sacramento Housing Alliance (as Secretary), Loaves & Fishes, and Sacramento County Health Center Co-applicant board (as Chair), Western Regional Advocacy Project, and I have a leadership role in other groups and projects, as well. Others have similarly transitioned to leadership roles in the community and have found housing and financial stability.' Paula Lomazzi, SHOC Director
-- Paula Lomazzi, Executive Director