History of Sierra Roots

Sierra Roots originated in October 2011. 


After a Nevada City homeless man was found frozen to death on the streets, and the remains of another homeless woman were found in a shallow grave near a homeless camp, the community became aware of the urgent need to address the effects of homelessness. 

Despite the official opening of Hospitality House, an overnight emergency shelter, in October 2005, many long-term homeless individuals either did not meet its shelter criteria or were hesitant to engage in treatment or recovery programs. Consequently, it was evident that Hospitality House alone could not address the needs of a significant portion of the homeless community. In response, Sierra Roots was established in 2011 as a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization governed by a Board of Directors.

The Sierra Roots program began with sandwiches, water, and fruit being served once a week to our homeless population. This had the long-term advantage of our getting to know these homeless citizens and their needs.


We were guided in learning how best to understand and approach our chronically homeless population by Jay Levy’s book, Pretreatment Guide for Homeless Outreach and Housing First. We immediately saw that personal interaction and friendship were a more lasting, if slower, way to help bring the homeless individual back into society with dignity and acceptance. In short, homeless persons began to work WITH us, and to help their fellow homeless friends get the assistance they needed.


A real community began to form.


In 2012 Sierra Roots began providing a hot, nutritious meal once a week, and we moved to Pioneer Park throughout the summer. In addition to weekly lunches, Sierra Roots began to offer homeless persons clothes, toiletries and non-perishable food to take with them. If they needed batteries, new shoes, tarps, tents, lanterns or other things, they requested them when they signed in before eating. We made the decision on an individual basis to provide what we could to make their lives more livable in the uninhabitable places they lived without a home.


Over time, it became evident that training individuals in Jay Levy’s principles of outreach to the chronically homeless would be most supportive of the vision and mission of Sierra Roots. Even as our services expand, Advocacy Training, the Extreme Weather Shelter, and the lunch and clothes programs continue to be essential to our mission, as Sierra Roots continues to pursue our vision of a community in which everyone has a chance to heal and a place to call home.  

©2024 Sierra Roots