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Galt, Sacramento County may join to fight homelessness

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Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:11 am, Fri Oct 28, 2011.

Sacramento County officials want Galt to be part of a coalition between public and private agencies reaching out to end homelessness. If the joint powers authority is ultimately created, it will direct funds to programs to combat the issue.

Although a vote was not taken, the idea seemed to receive support of council members when it was presented at last week's meeting.

The joint efforts among cities, Sacramento County and the nonprofit Sacramento Steps Forward are being organized by the county's Department of Human Assistance homeless program. It helps to plan, monitor and coordinate housing and employment services for homeless individuals and families.

Through the decision-making efforts of a JPA made up of elected officials, this could happen by putting those affected in touch with reduced-cost housing, drug and alcohol counseling, and help with domestic violence, said Paul Lake of the Department of Human Assistance.

Using funding from both the private and public sectors, the JPA could focus on veteran services. Approximately one-fifth of the county's homeless are veterans, according to Lake.

There would be no cost to cities.

Galt Councilwoman Marylou Powers said the county was moving in the right direction.

Local school officials have previously said the homeless population is hidden in Galt because there is no homeless shelter. Instead, school district outreach counselors hear about affected families through word of mouth or local churches.

Homeless families are a bigger issue there than chronically homeless individuals who live on the streets. People who have lost their homes or jobs with children find themselves without permanent addresses and are forced to sleep on couches or other temporary accommodations, according to school offices.

Earlier this year, the county office of education reported 467 of the 7,254 homeless school-age children were from the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District. Another 83 attended high school in Galt.

Lake has been traveling to other city councils to make the same JPA pitch. He was in Elk Grove on Monday night.

The JPA, which would take responsibility from the cash-strapped county, would replace the Sacramento County and Cities Board on Homelessness, which had the same goal.

That board was established in 1998 to collaborate in developing and supporting a continuum of care plan. In 2006, the county developed a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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