Meet ‘the mayor’ of the Miller Park Safe Ground

Some people call Dana Goode “the mayor” of the Miller Park Safe Ground.

Goode has been in and out of homelessness for many years and says she once was addicted to crack cocaine. She has been clean and sober for eight years now — and is hoping her stay in the City of Sacramento’s Safe Ground program is the path to real housing and a better life.

“It’s not my first time living in a tent, but it’s my first time being safe living in a tent—where I don’t have to sleep with a gun or a weapon,” Goode said. “I shouldn’t have to live like that. There’s a lot of stuff you go through, being a woman outside.”

Goode came to Sacramento, where her mother lives, after being diagnosed with cancer.

“I stayed with my mom for about two weeks, but she’s on HUD, so I didn’t want her to lose her housing,” she said. “I called the 3-1-1 number, and then Veronica and Jay (outreach workers for the City’s Department of Community Response) are the ones that came to see me and brought me here.”

Dana Goode stands in front of her tent at the Miller Park Safe Ground.

She has become known as “the mayor” of Miller Park because she is always helping someone else.

“To see a person’s face when you can give them a soda, or a bottle of water or a pair of shoes, it’s priceless, just priceless,” Goode said. “I believe that’s why I’m here. I make it a point to take care of these people, even though I’ll be at my worst, sometimes, when I can barely walk. But I feel like I will die if I don’t have someone to take care of, someone who needs me. I feel like if I stop doing that, I will die. Because I’ve been doing it so long.”

Her tent is neatly stacked with water, soda, snacks and other items that Goode mostly gives to other Safe Ground residents. She currently is undergoing treatment for her medical issues and is scheduled to move into subsidized housing in November.

For now, Miller Park Safe Ground is home, meeting her basic needs for safety, security, food, water and hygiene. But this spot in Miller Park also meets another need for Goode.

“My greatest joy since I’ve been here is the staff members,” Goode said. “They have been my biggest support, my biggest push. And the people here, because when I wake up and see them, I say good morning and they give me hugs, they tell me they love me, even staff members. I appreciate that. It lets me know I have a purpose. Because for a moment, before I came here, I was lost.”

The City if Sacramento currently operates more than 1,100 shelter beds and safe spaces for unsheltered residents. For more information about how the City is addressing the homelessness crisis, click here.

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