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Citrus Heights nonprofit looking at next step to help homeless

Warming center, Homeless Assistance Resource Team
File photo, Citrus Heights HART Coordinator Irene Hronicek hugs a guest at a warming center at Celtic Cross Presbyterian Church in January. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
Volunteers with the Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) are looking at ways to continue efforts to help area homeless, as “warming centers” set up during the cold season have concluded.

In a statement provided by HART board member Irene Hronicek, this year’s modified winter program served a total of 62 individuals, 46 men and 16 women, during the five weeks the program was in operation.

Five local churches participated in hosting the shelter on a rotating basis with each church hosting for one week, between Jan. 4 and Feb. 5, 2021. Unlike prior years, in an effort to follow state COVID-19 guidelines and prevent spread of the virus, guests were not allowed to stay overnight, but could spend up to four hours at the centers.

“The abbreviated offering this year truly served to reinforce to the participating host churches and volunteers that the overnight model is greatly needed and even preferred,” Hronicek told The Sentinel in an email Wednesday. “The preparation to welcome guests for 4 hours was much the same as welcoming guests for 12 hours overnight.”

Hronicek said guests were able to use charging ports for their electronic devices and receive haircuts and clothing during their stay. Citrus Heights Navigator Toni Morgan was also available at the centers to assist individuals with finding more permanent housing.

“In the City of Citrus Heights, there are no other overnight accommodations, winter or summer, that people who are homeless can be referred to,” Hronicek said. “The Homeless Navigator has some resources during this Covid environment, but they are limited, and conditions to qualify do not fit many of her clients.”

Hronicek said the causes of homelessness are complex and vary from one individual to the next. She says HART is working to educate the public about assumptions that people choose to be homeless or that there is a single cause or a simple solution to the problem.

“It is not usually one thing, but multiple events that squeeze the person onto the street,” she said. “And often, loss of employment, divorce, substance abuse, criminal activity, is only the last stress that finally forces a person onto the street.”

Over 190 volunteers participated at the five area churches to host the warming centers, according to HART. Participating churches were Antelope Road Christian Fellowship, Advent Lutheran Church, Celtic Cross Church, Holy Family Catholic Church, and the LDS Ladies Relief Society Citrus Heights Stake that provided volunteers at Celtic Cross Church.

An earlier report by The Sentinel noted that Mercy Holistic Ministry provided a mobile shower trailer for guests. HART also recognized Hands On Sacramento, Just Serve, Dignity Health, David Connick of Alcoholics Anonymous, Sunrise Christian Food Ministry, D.R.I.V.E Ministry, HART of Mesa, WEAVE, Kay Brown, Starbucks and the Citrus Heights Police for providing additional supplies and volunteers.

What’s next?
HART is currently considering ways to continue efforts to assist area homeless in the coming months, with a goal to provide year-round assistance in line with the organization’s mission to help people get off the streets and become self-sufficient.

“It would be great to have a consistent opportunity to reach the folks who are homeless,” Hronicek said. “Our vision includes perhaps a weekly Respite opportunity connected to a weekly Community Meal that could include First Aid and wound care, vaccinations, Navigator visits, laundry opportunities, and other service providers that offer help and resources to take steps out of homelessness.”

Related: Citrus Heights HART receives over $15k in recent donations to help homeless, students

Funding for the nonprofit’s work also received a boost in recent months. The organization recently reported receiving several donations totaling more than $15,000 from a variety of community groups and organizations. Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, Safeway Foundation, Carmichael Elks, and the Men’s Advisory Council were some of the organizations that contributed to the amount.

More information about HART can be found at

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