A group he formed to address homelessness surpassed its target to work with agencies and provide housing for 800 families this year, Mayor Kevin Johnson told the media Tuesday morning.

The group, Sacramento Steps Forward, formed last November and worked with other agencies to set up housing for 1,168 families this year.

“We’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Johnson said.

By 2012, Sacramento Steps Forward hopes to work with its partnering agencies to house 2,400 families.

Sacramento Steps Forward works with Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing of Sacramento County (HPRP). The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency administers HPRP, which is a federal stimulus program.

Additional groups affiliated with Sacramento Steps Forward include the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation and the Sierra Health Foundation.

Kyomi Jones told the media that the HPRP helped her when she nearly became homeless.

“They helped me find a job,” Jones said. “I was able to keep my home, able to keep my kids. And I just thank God for them and everyone that helped me.”

Private citizens and religious groups gave $400,000 during a “One Day to End Homelessness” effort held in March. The effort successfully brought $1.6 million in federal funding to Sacramento County’s HPRP.

A press release from the mayor’s office noted that $4 from the federal government were matched to each local dollar, totaling $1.6 million.

Johnson praised religious groups for their involvement in the fundraising effort. “You have to give the faith community a round of applause,” he said.

In response to a question after the press conference, Tim Brown, director of Sacramento Steps Forward, said there are still waiting lists at local shelters, but the lists “have gone down somewhat” because of the HPRP program.

Sacramento County has 2,800 homeless people, according to the most recent statistics, which were calculated in January 2009, Brown said.

Of the 2,800 homeless people, 1,200 people are living on the streets, he said. The remaining people are living in shelters or transitional housing, he said.

The next count of the county’s homeless will be in January 2011, he said.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.