City of Refuge
City of Refuge is a Sacramento nonprofit whose goal is to “bring hope to those who need it the most” through housing programs for low-income women and their families, after school programs for youth, self-defense classes and safe spaces for recently incarcerated individuals. Co-founders Rachelle and Loren Ditmore currently run two homes in Oak Park, as well as their main building that is a community gathering space for classes, trainings, counseling and general fellowship.
“Most of the women in the program are between ages 18 and 24, have children and have histories of human trafficking or domestic abuse,” said Rachelle. “Many of the women are coming out of the foster system or juvenile hall, finding they have nowhere to live and can’t find jobs. One woman had lived in 16 different homes before coming to City of Refuge — and many have a similar story.”
Despite all the great work the Ditmores do in communities of need, they realize that the demand for their services continues to grow. “We get calls every day,” Rachelle noted. She recently talked to a 23-year-old woman who was sleeping in her car with three children and regretfully had to tell her both houses were full.
To meet this need, they’ve acquired an empty lot and plan to build a three-story building in Oak Park to house 28 homeless women and their children, but first they need to raise $5 million. SMUD saw this as a great opportunity to leverage its programs and community engagement support to help. Our Sustainable Communities initiative granted the project $100,000 to kick off the fundraising campaign. City of Refuge will be using SMUD’s Integrated Design Solutions program to increase the environmental sustainability of the proposed new building, through energy efficiency measures which will also help City of Refuge reduce their SMUD bill. Additionally, SMUD was able to leverage its Energy Assistance Program Rate (EAPR) for nonprofits to reduce the financial burden on City of Refuge, while increasing the efficiency of its existing buildings. This partnership meets all of the goals of our Sustainable Communities initiative, which will result in new job opportunities, healthier neighborhoods and increased access to needed social and community services.