Attorney offers homeless ‘safe ground’ on property

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A new tent city on private property in Sacramento, now hosting four guests at the corner of 12th and C streets, was set up with the approach of housing first and working out the associated concerns later.

“This is the first that this has been installed during a time when the anti-camping ordinance is not being enforced. So, therefore, we have some hope that we could survive for a while,” civil rights attorney Mark Merin, who owns the land, told FOX40.

As an attorney, Merin has been a long-time advocate of this kind of “safe ground” for his homeless neighbors. But his hope to provide stability with the tent city may be undone by the very nature of how he put it up — without a permit.

“He is aware of the application process but he declined to follow it,” city attorney Susana Alcala Wood said in a statement. “Instead, he informed the city that he would be holding a press conference on his property to announce the opening of his unregulated campground.”

Alcala Wood said the city would explore enforcement options.

Merin announced plans for a similar homeless camp in the same spot four years ago, but with tiny homes instead of tents.

Neighbors like the Sacramento Montessori School, which borders Merin’s property, told FOX40 about their worries then.

“We, of course, support giving homeless people a place to live. That’s our number one position. Our number two problem is we want to make sure Megan’s Law is complied with,” school spokesman Steven Ybarra said. “It’s an embarrassment for the city to have not done anything. We have spent an incredible amount of resources and materials and not done enough for the people on the streets.”

Sacramento has made strides since then with its homeless response but not enough that Merin still didn’t believe his wasn’t necessary.

No formal background or drug screenings are required before someone can move in.

Right now, Merin’s plan is for things like schedules for the outdoor shower and other issues on site to be decided on by the residents themselves.

“I’d say we have to prove through operation that it will be a success,” he said.

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