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Sacramento Homeless Population Up 30 Percent In 2 Years

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new report shows the City of Sacramento has the highest number of homeless people it's ever recorded.

The report shows homelessness jumped a staggering 30 percent in two years to 3,700, from 2,800 people. More than 2,000 of those people are living on the street -unsheltered. The number of former military service members jumped by 50% to close to 500.

The latest count comes after continued efforts to find housing for homeless communities.

So what's the behind the increase?

Despite the housing boom in places like Midtown and Downtown Sacramento, officials say there are not enough homes to put homeless people.

Now Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says combating the crisis is his top priority.

"This is not just a sobering report. This is a damning report," said Steinberg.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg says those damning numbers suggests Sacramento's escalating homeless population is bigger than the efforts to combat the crisis.

According to the report, the majority of that "unsheltered" community lives within the mayor's city limits. And hundreds of them are veterans. So here's what he wants to do about it:

"I say we get 2,000 people off the streets over the next two to three years," he said.

How? The Mayor says through housing.

The city recently received a $64 million grant to help the homeless. Sacramento also offers many housing services for homeless. But despite efforts to place them, officials say the need far outpaces availability.

"We're at a historically low moment in terms of the funding available state and federal government," said Stephan Daues.

Stephan Daues is the Director of Housing Development for Mercy Housing, a national nonprofit providing affordable housing. He's currently lobbying for a state bill that would offer $800 million federal dollars for new housing statewide. The model he's pushing: one-bedroom cottages for homeless in Downtown Sacramento. They include 350 square foot units for about $250 subsidized dollars a month.

Reid Riddle lives here. Ten years ago, his house burned down, and he lost everything. Now he has hope.

"It's helped me get my license I'm registered and insured I have a car that's legal," he said.

Riddle hopes community leaders do the same for the people he left behind.

"Darrell Steinberg, yes I believe he is a person that has a great deal of faith and a lot of compassion for the homeless out there and that he speaks for us," said Riddle.

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