Three days after a deadly mass shooting downtown, the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 to place a measure on homelessness in the November ballot. If voters approve the Homeless Emergency Shelter and Law Enforcement Act of 2022, could this be a statewide model?
We turn to Daniel Conway. He leads the Sacramentans for Safe and Clean Streets and Parks coalition and is a policy adviser to the Los Angeles Alliance for Human Rights. The latter filed a lawsuit in federal court two years ago against the city and county of LA “to force them to solve their homelessness crisis, systematically, humanely and on a large scale”, he said. told Capitol Weekly.
Sacramento Steps Forward, a nonprofit that counts the homeless, estimates there were 11,000 homeless people in Sacramento County for 12 months.
“The Sacramento homeless ballot initiative is an iteration of the LA trial,” Conway said. “The goal is not to punish the homeless but to hold local leaders and systems accountable.”
The capital’s ballot measure prohibits camping in public spaces, “defined as four or more unrelated people camping together within 50 feet of each other and without permitted running water or toilets.” These outdoor spaces are “the de facto containment centers for people without housing,” Conway added.
Sacramento Steps Forward, a nonprofit that counts the homeless, estimates there were 11,000 homeless people in Sacramento County for 12 months. There were 161,000 homeless people in the Golden State in 2020, according to federal data.
With voter approval, Sacramento’s homelessness measure would require the city to house 60% of its homeless residents. This requirement would begin 60 days after the ballot measure is passed.
Minutes after City Council turned the Emergency Shelter and Law Enforcement Act green, “we got calls from all over the state,” Conway said, “supporting such an intervention. I think 2024 could see a number of jurisdictions do what Sacramento is doing to address the homelessness crisis.
“The current proposal fails to mention creating affordable housing (housing based on income), preventing homelessness, taking a trauma-informed approach to reaching encampments…” – Faye Wilson Kennedy
Faye Wilson Kennedy is part of the Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign. “The PPSC opposes this proposal as written,” she told Capitol Weekly. “The current proposal continues the public policy failure of criminalizing homeless community members, making it difficult for homeless people to find housing, employment and live a dignified life.
“Furthermore, the current proposal does not mention creating affordable housing (income-based housing), preventing homelessness, adopting a trauma-informed approach to encampment outreach, or how which the county will undertake to meet its obligation to provide services to the encampments.”
According to Conway, plans are underway for a Sacramento County ballot measure similar to the 2022 Emergency Homeless Shelter and Enforcement Act, which a leading business group is publicly backing. .
“The county must provide the mental health and health services needed by homeless men, women and children.” — Amanda Blackwood
“Sacramento business owners support this proposed measure and are prepared to do their part to move forward with an effort that is in the best interest of all parties,” said Amanda Blackwood, President and Chief direction of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, in a prepared statement. statement. “That said, the Metro Chamber underscores the importance to city and county leaders that the region’s business community needs to know that their employees and customers are safe and that the laws will be enforced.
“The county must provide the mental health and health services needed by homeless men, women and children. The city and county must provide shelter. And as taxpayers, we expect those two pillars – services and housing – to be non-negotiable.
Meanwhile, at the state Capitol, Democratic Assemblymen Ken Cooley (Rancho Cordova), Kevin McCarty (Sacramento), and Jim Cooper (Elk Grove) introduced Assembly Bill 2633 “to provide public safety on the American River Parkway after the brutal murder of 20-year-old Emma Roark.
Moreover, the Democratic trio is “propose $50 million in grants to counties and regional park districts to support efforts to protect the parkway. The goals of the grant program include 1) preventing fires by reducing incidents of illegal campfires in regional parks, 2) reducing homelessness by providing services and housing options, and 3) protecting park visitors, wildlife and our natural resources.
Call Wilson Kennedy a skeptic of this state bill. “AB 2633 would continue to criminalize and punish the homeless for being homeless and poor,” she said. “Members of our homeless community need real homes (not tents in temporary settlements) now! The $50 million figure, split across the counties that apply to the three goals above, doesn’t leave a whole lot of money for “housing options” – which we hope doesn’t mean tents.
“To put the $50 million into perspective, most people think there are about 2,000 homeless people along the American River Parkway. The average monthly rent for a studio is $1,900 in Sacramento.
So multiply $2,000 by $1,900 for 12 months. This equates to $45.6 million. So $50 million statewide is clearly not to scale with the end result being that we are criminalizing our homeless neighbors because there is no funding to house people let alone available housing .
Editor’s Note: Seth Sandronsky reports regularly for Capitol Weekly. Contact him at [email protected]