Last week, the newest edition of the Point in Time Count report was released for Sacramento County and the communities within it, detailing the current amount of homeless residents across the region, as well as critical data about that population.  While the county saw a 29% decline in the numbers and. 41% drop for the Sacramento area overall as a whole, the community of Folsom saw a significant increase according to the report, rising nearly 545% from the 2022 report, while neighboring communities saw their numbers decline.

When it comes down the hard numbers detailed in the report issued by Sacramento Steps Forward, those who are considered to be unsheltered homelessness. There were roughly 20 unsheltered homeless in Folsom reported in 2022. However, according to the latest report, that number now stands at 133 individuals per night in the city limits.


Folsom’s Mayor Mike Kozlowski recently held a public listening workshop on the topic of homelessness within the city of Folsom where many residents and business owners, as well as non-profits that help with the issues spoke out with a collection of concerns and ideas to address the issues. Following the release of the PIT numbers last week, Kozlowski said the rise was no surprise as many know the previous counts were uncertain and likely were higher, meaning this isn’t such a sharp spike as it appears.

“It is not a surprising number, it is a number that we have known for several years,” Kozlowski said, who has seen the rise in the homeless population first hand in his city. “But the increase within our city is a clear call to action.” 


The growing concern has been a topic of many Folsom City Council meetings as of late, as residents have brought their concerns to the podium during business of the floor sessions of recent meetings. Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman also shared data recently that had been collected by the Folsom Police Department illustrating the increase. 

According to Hillman’s data shared earlier this year, the Folsom Police Department responded to more than 200 complaints of illegal campsites in 2023. The department’s present Problem-Oriented Police unit was responsible for posting 65 of those camps for clean-up, with regular patrol officers handling the rest. During the year, 3,541 police calls involved unhoused individuals, which equates to approximately eight percent of the 44,050 total police incidents over the year.


Comparatively, nearby Rancho Cordova as well as Citrus Heights both saw their homeless counts decrease in the latest report.  In Rancho Cordova, some 156 individuals were recorded as being unsheltered and homeless in 2022. The latest data shows the number in Rancho Cordova has dropped to approximately 52 individuals in 2024. In Citrus Heights, the number that was 89 in 2022, has dropped to 62 for 2024.  


When you zoom out and look at the county as a whole, an estimated 6,615 individuals were documented as homeless in 2024. In 2022, it was reportedly 9,278 individuals, indicating one of largest drops to date in California, according to Sacramento Steps Forward. The news is good for the county overall, but for the community of Folsom its drawing concern.

The rise in numbers, however, is not necessarily being cited as the sole result of homeless migration from other areas. According to Hillman, they believe the previous report in 2022 was inaccurate to begin with.


“According to the report, Folsom saw a 545% increase in homelessness, rising from 20 in 2022 to 133 in 2024.  I believe the last PIT count inaccurately reported that there were only 20 homeless individuals in our city.  At the time, our count was 75,” said Hillman.  “Prior to the most current count, officers assigned to the Problem Oriented Policing Team (POP) sought out homeless individuals to accurately record the numbers in advance of the count by Sacramento Steps Forward. Our POP team’s count was 114.”

Regardless of whether the previous was correct, the homeless population has increased in Folsom and, according to the report is higher than its neighboring cities.

 “Whether or not the count in 2022 was accurate, the fact is there are currently over 100 people living without housing in Folsom,” Hillman added. 

It’s been noted by others involved that the previous report was likely inaccurate, especially by those working and operating local non-profits that assists the homeless locally seeing the growing need first hand like HART of Folsom, Jake’s Journey Home and Powerhouse Ministries, all of which are doing great work within their means to help the situation. 

“We’ve never had a number we’d deem an accurate representation of the unhoused population,” said Jon Ingraham of Powerhouse Ministries. “Last year, over 300 unique individuals sought services at our Crisis and Community Care center. This year’s numbers don’t indicate a sixfold increase in Folsom’s homeless population, but they do reflect figures closer to the actual number of individuals we’re serving.”

Jeanne Shuman, who founded Jake’s Journey Home is also one of the many out in the community, visiting and assisting its homeless, as well as assisting with the PIT count locally in an effort to gather accurate data the county and city can work from.  Shuman has spoken at numerous Folsom City Council meetings on the issues, her biggest concern is having a place for them to be able to go to.

“We try to get in there and help them and clean it up and get them in the services,” Shuman says. “If they have a place to go that we can keep them and let them live and exist and get them cleaned up a little more, it’s going to be more beneficial.”

As the City of Folsom works through finalizing an approved fiscal year budget for 2024-2025, one of the key components that Hillman has stressed the need for is a dedicated Homeless Out Reach (HOT) Team.  Such a team would consist of six dedicated officers, including a sergeant, a corporal and four officers for the team focused on homeless related issues in the city, including crimes related to the homeless population as well as illegal encampments and other issues.  Currently the nearby communities of Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights have such teams in place. 

“The city manager’s proposed budget is a critical step in this effort, “Kozlowski noted. “It addresses the increased service level needs for responding to homelessness in our community. This budget proposes adding six new positions to the police department to form a dedicated Homeless Outreach Team.”

Hillman, who has been working with the City Manager on budget needs, agrees with Kozlowski on the need for a dedicated team as the other communities are finding to be successful. 

“The City Manager’s proposed budget includes funding for additional police officers to staff a team dedicated to homeless outreach, from enforcement efforts against those committing crimes to support for those seeking a better life,” added Hillman. “The City Council and City Manager have heard from the community about the many problems certain homeless individuals are causing in our community.   The proposed budget for additional police officers is meant to address those concerns.”

While the proposed HOT team will focus on homelessness and the issues surrounding it, Hillman notes that the community needs to remember that being homeless is not a crime in itself. That is something the department is well aware of as they serve the community. 
“Homelessness is not a crime, yet many individuals experiencing homelessness are committing crimes in Folsom and need to be held accountable for their actions.  With the additional officers proposed by the City Manager, the Police Department will add a six-person Homeless Outreach Team (HOT).  The team will be staffed seven days a week,” Hillman added. “Officers assigned to the team will work in collaboration with non-profit organizations and businesses to develop plans to better aid our homeless population that is seeking and accepting of assistance.  The team will also hold others accountable to ordinances and laws related to panhandling, camping, and trespassing.”This Tuesday, City Council is scheduled to review and discuss the proposed budget which must be approved by the end of this month

Above photo: A homeless individual pictured camped out in Folsom’s Historic District recently. Folsom Times photo: Bill Sullivan