Fundraiser Tops $16K to Shelter Natomas Families

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | [email protected]

A campaign to raise money to temporarily shelter 20 families in the Natomas Unified School District has surpassed $16,000 in just three days.

“This is just an amazing effort on the part of our community,” president of the Natomas Schools Foundation Sonia Mercado said Thursday.

The Natomas Schools Foundation launched a GoFundMe earlier in the week in hopes of raising at least $30,000 to help families identified by school district social workers as being unsheltered or at risk of becoming homeless.

The goal: to pay for about a month of emergency housing.

The Natomas Schools Foundation typically fundraises to support art, athletic and academic programs for students within the Natomas Unified School District’s boundaries and has a scholarship program for graduating seniors.

The foundation also supports families in need of assistance, Mercado said.

“Natomas is the best community and we’re just so thankful,” Mercado said. “A lot of people are going through hard times right now and still taking time to help others.”

According to the Natomas Unified School District, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more unsheltered homeless families in Sacramento.

The school district’s Social Emotional Services team has been tracking at-risk youth including homeless and foster youth since campuses closed earlier this year due to COVID-19, according to a learning continuity plan submitted to state officials.

Early in the pandemic, about 6% of the families with at-risk youth who were contacted by the district requested help with food and shelter, the report said. And according to Ed Data, roughly 50% of students in district schools receive free and reduced lunch.

“This specific fundraiser is for those that are unsheltered or at risk of being unsheltered,” Natomas Unified School District spokesperson Deidra Powell said.

According to Powell, school district social workers have identified about 20 families who have children attending district schools and are in need of emergency housing.

The Natomas Unified School District school board held a special meeting Wednesday night and voted unanimously to pass a resolution allowing the district to spend up to $97,000 as a stop gap to pay for temporary shelter and other necessities until the GoFundMe proceeds become available in 2021. The district also plans to work with state and local governments to identify long-term support for the families and their students.

According to the resolution, 11 families in the school district are confirmed without shelter or have shelter that is ending, two families have confirmed long-term hotel stays but a need for food and other holiday support, and seven families have shelter but a need for food and holiday support.

Powell said the plan is to get these families into emergency housing as soon as Dec. 21 and through at least mid-January.

At press time, $16,451 had been raised.

“We are so thankful for what people have contributed so far, it really shows just the generosity and love people have for Natomas,” Powell said.

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