Elk Grove HART is an all-volunteer organization that was formed in 2010 to provide services to the growing number of people experiencing homelessness in the Elk Grove area. The intention is to assist the homeless in becoming independent and self-sustaining through a one-on-one mentoring program. In spite of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, HART continued its work in the following areas:
HART Now Supports Three Transitional Houses
In 2013, the Grace House opened to provide transitional housing for 5 homeless people and a housing monitor. A six-month stay gives each person an opportunity to seek employment and find housing with the help of their mentor and a caseworker.
In 2015, the Meadow House for families opened for the increasing number of families experiencing homelessness in the Elk Grove area. Three families can stay in the house for up to 9 months, through an entire school year. Goals are set and worked on during that time to stabilize the families and help them to move out of homelessness. More than 80% of residents who graduated from the transitional housing program have secured permanent housing.
During the summer of 2021, Elk Grove HART, in partnership with Sacramento Self Help Housing, dedicated its third transitional housing facility for those experiencing homelessness. The new Moon Creek home has seven bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,900 square feet of living space. Stays in this new home will vary from short-term (weeks) up to 12 months to help families stabilize and work through any issues that may be presenting challenges in obtaining permanent housing. A family of 4 and a family of 8 were among the first families to move into the Moon Creek house. During their stay in the Moon Creek House, the Elk Grove community will surround them with supportive services, mentoring and case management. Elk Grove HART plays a dominant role in these support services by providing mentors who “walk beside” the clients during their stay.
During the Pandemic, HART Implemented "Shelter in Place" Programs
HART's Winter Sanctuary started in 2013 and for seven years gave those that were on the streets a warm and safe place to sleep for 12 weeks during the winter. Homeless guests were provided shelter at hosting churches with a hot meal at night and breakfast in the morning. During that time, social workers and other support staff worked with the homeless to help them better their situations, often finding housing options for them. Hundreds of volunteers were involved in making this happen.
The winter of 2020 brought new challenges and opportunities for Elk Grove HART. Unable to provide overnight, indoor shelter due to COVID-19 restrictions, HART designed and implemented a new program called EG HART WINSIP (Winter Shelter in Place). For this new program, HART was able to partner with the City of Elk Grove and obtain financial support through the Cares Act. For 44 weeks beginning in March of 2020 and running through the Spring of 2021, volunteers assembled and delivered shelf stable meals and other necessities to those experiencing homelessness within the City of Elk Grove. More than 5,500 meals were assembled and delivered to residents of encampments throughout the city. In addition to food, homeless clients were provided waterproof sleeping bags, warm jackets, clothing items, and toiletries. HART continues to support weekly meal deliveries throughout the year in partnership with the Humanitarian Action Network, Inc. (HAN). HAN is a 100% volunteer-run, grassroots nonprofit that provides direct, street level support to people who are experiencing homelessness throughout Sacramento.
HART Partnered with the City of Elk Grove to Provide Winter Warming Locations
The winter of 2021 provided yet another opportunity for community collaboration and partnership to serve the unsheltered in Elk Grove - the Elk Grove Overnight Warming Location (OWL) Cooperative. The OWL Cooperative is a service network that involves Elk Grove HART, the City of Elk Grove, the Cosumnes Fire Department, volunteers from local churches and the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPs). An Elk Grove OWL opened when winter weather conditions presented a danger to people who lack shelter or adequate home heating.
Elk Grove HART strongly believes in partnering with supportive agencies, the Elk Grove Unified School District and the City of Elk Grove to fully utilize all available resources. The Elk Grove HART model has been so successful that it has been duplicated in 10 other local communities including Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, Folsom, and Carmichael.