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Local homeless transition and recovery organization Cottage Housing Incorporated will celebrate its 15th year Wednesday with a fundraising celebration entitled "Beacon of Hope" at the Crest Theatre. The event will include and evening of reflection, entertainment and launch the program’s Home Run! initiative.

CHI President and CEO Robert Tobin has been deeply involved with Sacramento’s homeless community throughout the past 10 years.

"Homelessness is a symptom of larger systemic issues within our society," Tobin said. "Increasing challenges within our educational and medical systems affect some people more than others."

To aid individuals and families in need, CHI opened its first living facility, Quinn Cottages, in 1998. To qualify for the program, participants must make a commitment to sobriety, have self-defined personal development goals and render voluntary services. Participants may live in the facilities for up to 24 months and are considered graduates when they have secure housing, stabilized income and are sober at the time of their departure.

With the fall of the economy and rise of unemployment over the past few years, homelessness rates have shot up, and the need for homeless assistance has increased.

"The biggest change over the last five years is the length of time applicants are spending on our waiting list," Tobin said. "There was an 85 percent increase in the percentage of homeless population that is unsheltered."

Tobin went on to explain that waiting lists to get into Cottage Housing used to be three months, which is around the same time people are allowed to stay in emergency shelters. Now with the economic shift, typical waiting time is 10 months, forcing those in need to circle back to the streets before entering the program.

The Home Run! initiative is aiming to help heal that problem. The initiative is designed to double accommodations from 241 bedrooms to 500 and triple residential capacity from 450 to 1,400 adults and their children annually. Already $1 million has been generated for the expansion, and CHI is working to triple that amount.

The "Beacon of Hope" event will kick-off the public portion of the fundraising campaign. The night will be full of presentations and entertainment, including a performance by the Sacramento Gay Men’s Choir.

The event will also recognize now-retired Bishop Francis A. Quinn, who has been involved with the organization since its inception. At the event, Quinn will be introduced by Mayor Kevin Johnson as the first annual Beacon of Hope honoree.

Wednesday’s event begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased by e-mailing or by calling 916-971-1566 x13. The Crest Theatre is located at 1013 K St.

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All photos courtesy of Michael Iredale .