Proposed Site for Outdoor Homeless Community in Sacramento on Hold After Group Voices ‘Viable Concerns’

SACRAMENTO -- A few tents already dot the far end of the field that a Sacramento City Councilman wants to turn into an outdoor homeless community, counseling and triage center for up to 150.

"Let's see how many people we can heal," Councilman Allen Warren said.

Warren has had his sights set on a two-acre baseball field near the Johnston Community Center in North Sacramento. He said allowing homeless people to stay at the site for three to four months shouldn't have posed a problem since the field had been unused for two years.

"You got people on both sides of that discussion and so hopefully we make some progress tonight," Warren said.

Differing opinions on the proposed plan were no more apparent than in the voice of the homeless community fighting for a secure space in the city.

"I'd like to see permanent housing, but it's a start," said Anthony Lehr, who is homeless.

"Some people who've been on the streets might not be ready, personally, to go to an apartment. They need a place they can feel safe, take a shower every day, feel good about themselves," said David Andre, who is also homeless.

But the road to housing the homeless is littered with unforeseen obstacles.

Late Tuesday, an anonymous organization that serves women and children let council know that the proposed location posed concerns. Now Warren will have to look into a new site.

"So I'm sad that we won't be voting tonight, but we should be trying other options," Warren said.

One of those other options: Also late Tuesday Mayor Darrell Steinberg emailed out an alternative homeless plan. His proposal would modify the city code allowing churches to shelter small numbers of homeless people year round.

But until both plans are analyzed further, sleeping bags will continue to line the sidewalk around Sacramento City Hall.