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Program Helps Homeless Women Get Back On Their Feet

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — They went from the streets to the stage.

Women who know what it's like to lose it all, offered their solutions to Sacramento's homeless crisis on Friday, after graduating from an award-winning program helping them get back on their feet.

Never before have these women been at center stage. But this is their moment.

"That's something special," said Tiffany Graves.

Tiffany Graves spent a year living on the street with her two small children, after a long battle with drug addiction.

"I'm finally going to have a place to call home," she said.

She just qualified for a low-income apartment in Sacramento and landed a job as a gas station attendant.

"My kids are finally going to have a place where they can lay their heads," she said.

But Graves couldn't have done it without Women's Empowerment in Sacramento.

She's the most recent graduate of the 9-month program, helping homeless women build self-confidence and job skills.

"From being the victims of their past to the authors of their future," said founder Lisa Culp.

Over the last decade, Culp has helped close to 3,000 women start over.

In the last two years alone, Sacramento's homeless population has increased 30 percent, according to Sacramento Steps Forward.

"Women and children are the hidden homeless, so we desperately need housing that's affordable," said Culp.

Robin Kelly-Dunton is another one of her graduates.

She fell into homelessness with her baby boy, when she sold it all to pay her husband's medical bills.

"Yeah, I was homeless with my son," she said.

She now works for a California Assemblyman.

How would she fix the problem?

"Programs like this—Women's Empowerment was instrumental in me being where I am today. I walked in there a broken woman," she said.

Volunteer Chantay White helped her rebuild.

Formerly homeless with PTSD, White is now an advocate, pushing city leaders to come up with a way to combine housing with mental health services.

"Like say for example get a hotel somewhere, have them all right there where they can receive services like health care, dental, and filling out paperwork versus having them out in the street," she said.

Ideas for ending homelessness, from people getting a new beginning.

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