Homelessness is often considered an urban problem. Yet, due to the underlying causes of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse and mental health problems, even relatively small rural counties have significant numbers of often-unseen homeless.
El Dorado County stretches from the eastern edge of the Sacramento Valley in Northern California to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of Nevada. The population of this rural county is only 181,000 (July 2011 U.S. Census Bureau) largely scattered across unincorporated areas with no large cities (and little ethnic diversity). But the poverty level is surprisingly high with documented pockets of extreme poverty and unemployment in these areas of the county being significant as well. Given these demographics, it is not surprising that in El Dorado County there are six hundred homeless (CBS July 18, 2012). Recently, local school districts have noted a significant increase in homeless children attending schools in El Dorado County, identifying over 650 in the 2011-2012 school year, a 35% increase over the last 3 years. Specifically, in the city limits Placerville Union School District identified 117 students experiencing homelessness in the 2011-2012 school year, a 25% increase over the 2010-2011 school year.
Although there are shelters in nearby Sacramento County, most of the homeless in El Dorado County have no transportation and we have no viable public transportation for them to get there. In addition, most Sacramento shelters are full and turn away families every night. Until the creation of United Outreach in 2005, no shelters for the homeless existed in the entire county.
Homelessness affects our entire community. Businesses, schools, churches, and individuals all feel the results of a population without jobs, training or homes to live in. Join us in building a pathway out of homelessness, brick by brick