Sacramento Mayoral Candidates Discuss City’s Homeless Crisis

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SACRAMENTO -- The four Sacramento mayoral candidates met Saturday night at Trinity Church for a forum on one of the city's most challenging crises: homelessness.

Sacramento, a growing city with signs of real progress. But amid the cranes and construction, more than a thousand people who sleep every night on the streets.

"We don't have nearly enough temporary shelter, transitional housing and certainly not enough permanent housing," former State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said.

The candidates, Steinberg, Angelique Ashby, Russell Rawlings and Tony Lopez, discussed everything from affordable housing to unemployment.

The big challenge -- where funding to support the homeless will come from since much of it was cut after the recession.

"We disagree on whose fault it is that it's gone. Nonetheless, it's gone, and we have to find a way to bring that money back," Ashby said.

Steinberg also mentioned bringing state dollars that come from cap and trade back to Sacramento, while Ashby focused on the city partnering with agencies to create job opportunities and ordinances that protect affordable housing.

"You can't save the world, because the world doesn't want to be saved. That's number one. For those that wanna be saved, we got the answer for you," said Lopez, who stressed many homeless people will refuse services.

Lopez introduced a plan to allow the homeless work opportunities cleaning city homes and buildings for ten dollars per job.

All four candidates were split on on the controversial ordinance that makes it illegal for the homeless to sleep outdoors.

"We're wasting resources by investing into this practice," said Rawlings, a champion of the "right to rest" protest. Rawlings and Steinberg were against the ordinance, and Ashby and Lopez were for it.

"Those camping tickets often brought people to resources," Ashby said.

What is clear, Sacramento's next mayor will inherit a serious homeless challenge all while working to attract more business to a developing city center.

"It's a false choice. They're equally important, in fact one should benefit the other," Steinberg said, when asked whether he would prioritize nurturing new business or tackling homelessness.

"Business people come to work, they see a homeless person, and they don't have any resources to help them," said Ashby, when asked the same question.

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