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Locals Voice Concerns over Winter Triage Center as Leaders Tout Its Success

NORTH SACRAMENTO -- Two months into Sacramento's effort at a 24/7, low-barrier triage center for the homeless feelings about success are mixed.

The city's counting the effort as a win for helping 264 different people and dropping crime but some say the crime statistics and other statistics are skewed.

Tuesday afternoon paramedics rushed in to help someone in trouble inside Sacramento's Winter Triage Center for the homeless.

Susan Brown said she slipped on someone else's cigarette on the floor. The response when she injured her leg "wasn't very good," she told FOX40.

"It took the people that live here to help me get up off the floor," Brown said. "Staff were doing laundry and just kept passing me. It wasn't good and it took two hours to get me to the hospital."

"She fell and they all pretended like, 'Oh well,'" said Janette Mouck, who has been homeless for six months.

Witnessing what happened with Roberts was just one of the problems Mouck said she's seen in her week as a resident.

"They're doing illegal things in here," Mouck said.

By illegal she's talking about drugs and she claims there are other issues that are far more basic.

"The bathrooms, you can't even use the bathrooms. There's crap piled on top of crap," Mouck said.

Mouck and others say some shelter with services, even with challenges, is better than none. They acknowledge many good things were happening at the site.

"Tomorrow social security comes in and after that's decided I can go back to school," said Cynthia Stracener.

On top of that, the city is touting a 48 percent drop in crime in a .65 mile radius around the center.

But a community committee set up to voice concerns more constructively than some of those shouted during the planning stages said they haven't been able to access city data on triage operations

Members also say that people in North Sacramento were still feeling something different than what police were reporting.

"It's vandalism, it's broken windows in businesses," said Alicia Sebastian with the North Sacramento Advisory Committee on Homelessness. "It's folks going through trash. It's increased waste along the riverway."

Councilwoman Ashby warned that the city look at itself honestly in this process. She said she feels the 34 housing placements reported out of the 264 clients is inflated. Others feel that 34 number is solid and shows great success.

With triage costing the city $400,000 a month, Ashby said that is unsustainable, expressing concern for the general fund.

Although a worried community was promised the triage center was temporary, the mayor said Tuesday that Sacramento is not going backward.

"I don't think anybody on the city council is going to turn out 200 plus people back onto the streets," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

With a "what next" still undefined, homeowners still fear their neighborhood will be the city's only permanent solution to homelessness.

"There's a lot of mistrust happening there," Sebastian said. "A lot of community members and businesses who are feeling that they have not been dealt with honestly."

The evergreen site that's been talked about for months as a next step is not a viable option by the end of March, according to the mayor. Clients at the triage center claim they've been told by staff there they'll be moved to a site at Auburn and Hemlock. City spokespeople say they know nothing about that.

All of this will be discussed at a community meeting set for Thursday.