By Angela Musallam

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Housing the homeless at Cal Expo? That’s what one homeless advocate is suggesting for the City of Sacramento.

This comes after Cal Expo opened its doors for wildfire victims last week, prompting questions about what the city and county are doing to help the homeless.

“We literally are stepping over thousands of homeless people to give blankets to people who are not from Sacramento,” said Kimberley Church.

Church says she has a problem with Cal Expo hosting wildfire victims. She says the city and county aren’t paying attention to the real problem here at home.

“I sort of saw it as really hypocritical that we select and choose which displaced people we are going to help,” Church added.

Church then turned to social media to get the homeless to go to Cal Expo.

An advocate for displaced youth and adults, Church says she’s committed to getting them off the streets.

Every Tuesday, she goes out to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and serves food to the homeless. Church also hands out survival kits – tents, sleeping bags, flashlights – whatever she says helps the homeless survive without shelter.

“It was a way for me to cope with the disappointment I saw in Sacramento,” said Church.

Can the city actually open up Cal Expo to shelter the homeless?

“Cal Expo is not a feasible option,” said Janna Haynes with Sacramento County.

Haynes says both the city and county had a partnership with Cal Expo, to open up a winter shelter. She says that ended in 2009 because it was becoming too expensive.

“It’s just a shell — it’s walls and a ceiling,” said Haynes.

Haynes added the county is exploring other options. It just launched an initiative to provide emergency shelter to homeless families who have pets. She also says the county is working on a plan to build ten permanent supportive housing facilities.

Frustrated with police for kicking the homeless out of their camping spots, Church says the focus now should be temporary housing — and she’s ready to fight for it.

“We’re not gonna stop until you stop, and as many sleeping bags as you confiscate, I’m gonna come back with five times as many. That’s just how this is gonna work.”

The county says it’s going to open up a winter shelter this year in lieu of the one it used to open at Cal Expo.

Haynes says it’ll cost them half the amount, with funding to spare for other shelters.


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