Our Mission

Sierra Roots takes a relationship-based approach in our work with homeless people. We are dedicated to listening to homeless people and collaborating with them to make progress in their health, self-reliance, and action plans for secure, safe homes.


History of Sierra Roots

Sierra Roots was born in October 2011 out of extreme concern for the chronically homeless population of Nevada City, California.

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.

Although Hospitality House (an overnight emergency shelter) had been officially opened in October of 2005, many long-term homeless persons either failed to meet its criteria for shelter or were reluctant to participate in treatment or recovery-based programs. In any event, it became clear that the needs of a large segment of the homeless population could not alone be served by Hospitality House. To meet this need, Sierra Roots was founded in 2011 as a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, led 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.