While Homeless Community Shares Its Stories, City Officials are Absent

SACRAMENTO -- Homeless people gathered together at a forum Saturday to voice their concerns and suggestions for the state of homelessness in Sacramento.

"You never where you're going to lay your head down at. You never know when your next meal is going to be," said Amber Duncan, who has been homeless and is now an advocate for the homeless community. "You never know when you are going to take a shower next. You never know anything."

Issues like restoring public restrooms, feeling criminalized and proper sanitation filled much of the testimonies and a question and answer session at "Unhomed. Voices of the Unheard."

"Until we do something that stands up for our rights and notice everything, nothing else happens," said Christopher Dickerson.

Dickerson, who at 19 has already been homeless for a year, wanted to use the forum to voice his concerns to city officials, though no one attended outside of a representative for Mayor Darrell Steinberg. Cardboard cutouts of their faces filled their designated seats.

"It doesn't make me angry, but it makes me kind of upset that they aren't here to hear what we've been going through and what we feel we want to voice about," Dickerson said.

Other attendees shared Dickerson’s disappointment that officials weren’t in attendance, with several members of the city council and the mayor citing scheduling conflicts for the reason they couldn’t attend.

Mayor Steinberg issued a statement Friday when FOX40 reached out to him about attending the forum. He said in part, "Hearing about the challenges and experiences that Sacramento’s unsheltered community face every day is not only valuable, it is critical if we are to implement a system of care that will meaningfully impact the homeless crisis in our city."

Despite the absences, the forum was viewed positively.

"The reason to hold these events is to get the word out, to get people to understand what is going on, put a face to everything," Duncan said.