Supportive housing for terminally ill unsheltered residents breaks ground in Sacramento

Sacramento soon will host a new facility offering supportive housing for terminally ill people experiencing homelessness.

Organizers this week held a groundbreaking for Joshua’s House, which is being built on a vacant City-owned parcel in Gardenland.

Attendees at the groundbreaking included Mayor Darrell Steinberg; Councilmember Jeff Harris; Sister Libby Fernandez, a longtime advocate for unsheltered residents; and Dr. Marlene von Friedrichs-Fitzwater, founder and executive director of Joshua’s House.

“No one should be unsheltered; nobody who is sick should be without care,” Steinberg said. “We should never forsake human beings.”

Scheduled to open in 2023, the Joshua’s House facility will provide comfort and dignified housing for up to 15 residents at a time. The property will have five ADA-compliant manufactured homes and room to add more in the future.

“When talking to homeless people, their number one fear is almost always dying alone on the street,” said von Friedrichs-Fitzwater, who founded Joshua’s House in memory of her grandson who died on the streets when he was 34. “No one should have to meet that fate. Joshua’s House will allow terminally ill homeless people in our area to spend their final days in comfort and safety, with the dignity we all deserve.”

HomeAid — a collaborative effort with North State Building Industry Association that helps people experiencing homelessness build new lives through construction job training –is working with Joshua’s House on the construction of the property. The City of Sacramento is providing a 50 year, no-cost least for the property.

Joshua’s House was included in the Comprehensive Siting Plan for homeless housing solutions approved by the Sacramento City Council in August 2021.

When open, the facility will serve patients with the assistance of end-of-life trained doulas and offer educational opportunities and internships for nursing and medical school students.

According to Joshua’s House, roughly 25% of homeless people die from terminal illnesses such as respiratory diseases, cancer and heart disease. After diagnosis, they typically only live for a few months. Most homeless people are disconnected from families and do not have family members who can help care for them.

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