731 K Street

Our volunteer photographer, Gale Filter, reflects on the history of homelessness along K St. 

The door above has memories for me. I see it nearly every week on my early morning K Street walks. From 1999 to 2007 it was the door I entered to start my work day at the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA).

I was usually the first person at work. Nearly every morning I would find the same homeless man, “Bill,” asleep in the employee entrance blocking the doorway. Most of the time I had to wake him and ask that he move so I could get inside. Bill would give me a gruff “good morning” and then move so I could enter the building. I in turn would give Bill some coffee money. For several years this was our morning routine. Then Bill disappeared and I never saw him again.

CDAA moved to a new location in 2007. The building at 731 K Street still stands but has been vacant for eight years. Whenever I walk K Street I often think of Bill, especially when I see other homeless people sleeping in what was once Bill’s place.

There are definitely more homeless on K Street today than there were in 1999. At the Sacramento Convention Center where I start my K Street walks there is statue with the inscription, “What have we wrought?” Good question.

Sowing Seeds

Joquel Hunt is a writer, mother and author of this blog post. She trusts Mustard Seed to take good care of her son and daughter while she runs errands, tries to secure housing and carves out some time for herself to cope with the stress of the family’s life. 

I am sure you have heard of Mustard Seed. And no, I am not referring to a seed we sow to produce a plant, although the seeds that are sown at this school will reap a harvest that will indefinitely carry them throughout their entire lives. It’s the little ole school that does “BIG THINGS” everyday.

Everyday parents such as myself sign our kids into this school with the knowledge that our most prized possessions are well cared for. And they are! Seeing is believing with me. The love, the care, the patience, the respect our children receive is unmatched. No wonder my 2 kids love it here!

I am the mother of 6 but only have 1 child in my care currently. This summer I had the privilege of having my 12 year old son Ante’ with me too. You see,  Ante has behavior problems that stems from my past drug addiction, parental neglect, and a mixture of other things. And since I am the only one who understands him, because I also dealt with these same issues as a child, to Mom he came.


Being homeless is extremely difficult especially when there are children we have to provide for along with ourselves. We live it “one day at a time” literally! Some days we win. Some days we feel defeated. But we do not dare give up!

Our children count on us to provide for their needs and they expect us to be there for them. We do it everyday the best way we can. And we leave the rest up to God. His ways are much higher than ours anyhow.  

We sleep in our vans. Our cars. Outside in a tent. In motels. We sleep wherever we can. Sometimes we even sleep on the couches or floors of family members. We bear the load of caring for our children in circumstances such as these while trying hard not to burden them with our  “adult stuff.”

On a day to day basis, we encounter many things on different levels.

Sometimes we parents have difficult mornings and lack the coping skills we need to be able to push beyond the hurt.

We deal with our own children’s whines, tempers, as well as trying to stay strong for ourselves.

We encounter drivers with road rage. We make calls to different agencies asking for help only to hear a no!

We are pushed to deal with a housing program that has funding for us, but puts us through a bunch of unnecessary changes just to say, ‘no you are not approved.’ And the reason most of do not get approved for housing is because the rule of the program is this: either you sleep outside, in your car, or wait to get into a shelter and that’s it. Who wants to continue to sleep outside or in a car? We can’t even rent a motel room and still be qualified for the housing program at the same time.

It takes so much strength, so much courage and an extremely strong will to endure seasons such as the one we homeless families currently find ourselves in. We swallow our pride everyday while trying to hold onto our dignity.

So, when we can go about our day in confidence knowing that our babies are ok, it is a sigh of relief. One less thing we have to stress over.

I am so grateful for these wonderful ladies who pour themselves into the lives of our children effortlessly.

Casey, the Coordinator, who meets and greets us with a smile everyday. She is sweet, patient, caring, and exemplifies love for every single child every single moment she is present. She oversees the care of the School. The children. The volunteers, the donations, as well as the staff, with dignity and honor and trust. Thank you Casey! Every seed you’ve sown shall reap a harvest!

Let us consider for a moment the daily demands of every child with their delicate needs. And still each child is treated equal and fair. There are no favorites here. This is what every staff at this school exemplifies and I am honored to have my children among such a wonderful group of people.

Lucia, she gives herself to those kids freely.  And no one else can take her place. The kids see her first before going into the classroom and see her last before leaving the school. She is strict but patient, tough but loving. She is the one who handles all the intakes when we first enroll our children into Mustard Seed. She assesses each family/child for needs and makes sure they are taken care of.  Upon entry each child receives a pack of underwear, socks, along with a backpack full of supplies. If they need more, just let her know and she will make it happen. Such a rare gift! God bless you!

And let’s not forget about Liana, she does all the paperwork with a smile.

This type of service is needed throughout the world, but as homeless families we are blessed that we get it right where we are. It’s like God’s hands are working through these ladies to make sure our kids are ok so that we parents can be ok.

It takes a special type of person to impact the lives of children through empowerment, enrichment, and care. And that is exactly what our children receive every single day.

Ms. Annabelle and the few others you guys rock too! Good luck on your new journey. And thank you to for caring for our children unconditionally with restrictions or biases. We love you!

Let us recognize Mustard Seed school for all their hard work, dedication to our children, exemplary service and unconditional love. They are truly a Godsend and we are truly blessed and thankful to have them among us.


                                       YOU GUYS ARE THE BOMB.COM!

Written by Joquel Hunt

The struggle to find a public bathroom

Each day, guests at Loaves & Fishes must walk miles to access public restroom — and sometimes are forced to surrender to nature’s call outdoors.

This daily struggle for the homeless is dehumanizing, and also a public health issue, with tuberculosis, meningitis and diarrheal diseases running rampant.

In 2011, a United Nations expert on safe drinking water and sanitation who visited a homeless encampment along the Sacramento River was outraged by the lack of sanitation facilities, noting, “The criminalization of public urination and defecation combined with a lack of public toilets leaves homeless people in desperate situations without alternatives.”

According to U.N. Standards every refugee camp should have one bathroom per twenty people. But, homeless encampments and public spaces are bathroom desserts. In Los Angeles, Skid Row’s population rests at just over 1000, but there are only nine restrooms that provide relief to the homeless community.

Sacramento’s recent point in time count concluded that there are nearly 4,000 people sleeping outside. But, many argue that the count under-represents Sacramento’s homeless population by not taking into account homeless families who often sleep on friends’ couches or in hotels rather than under the night sky where the count is held. As well, the count pales in comparison to 13,245 people who are documented as homeless and participate in a CalFresh program which allows them to use their food-assistance at participating restaurants.

Each day, nearly 600 guests rely on the toilets of Loaves & Fishes., which are maintained by staffers.

Key to this success of any restroom is toilet paper, which has been donated in generous abundance by the community over the years.

Loaves & Fishes’ annual toilet paper drive this month envisions the donation of 100,000 rolls of toilet paper, which will sustain the campus throughout the year, thus fulfilling our mission to “provide an oasis of welcome, safety, and cleanliness for homeless men, women and children seeking survival services.” Too, the rolls will help supply other Sacramento nonprofits.

To learn more about the struggle for public restrooms Check out these articles:

A SNR story profiling Loaves & Fishes guests who struggle each day to find bathrooms:

Joan Burke, Loaves & Fishes’ advocacy director, believes the city could save money on repairs to its public toilets by hiring a staff person to oversee the operation and maintain order. Last year, as part of a Bathroom coalition, Burke leaned on Councilman Jeff Harris to provide a public bathroom in the River District, – where much of Sacramento’s homeless population lives. The bathrooms featured receptacles for pet waste and used needles, air-conditioning and were staffed by an attendant who helped improve public safety.  But the facilities — planned as a temporary installation — are no longer there.

On Los Angeles’ skid row, there are nine bathrooms that service 1,000 people. As a result defecation and urination in the streets increase the risk that people who live along skid row will contract tuberculous, meningitis and diarrheal disease. Public restrooms should be a human right.

Check out this great design for a public bathroom created and piloted in Portland, Ore.