SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Safer than tents and cheaper than shelters, pop-up structures can be assembled without tools in as little as 20 minutes and some city leaders say they could be the answer to the city’s rising homeless population.
“For emergency shelter in the winter or when it’s blazing hot outside, we can get people indoors quickly and relatively cheaply,” said Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris.
The idea comes to Sacramento from Washington State where a group called Pallet Shelter created small, metal cabins for temporary housing.
Councilman Harris said constructing large, permanent homeless shelters can be a slow and costly process. He believes the pop-up shelters can be an interim solution to a growing problem.
“District 3 probably has 1,000 people sleeping outdoors tonight, maybe as many as 2,000 in my district,” Harris explained. “It’s a big problem. I would like to house them all but finding sites to do so is difficult.”
More than 5,500 people experience homelessness on any given night in Sacramento County, according to county data.
Each of the aluminum structures can fit between four to six beds and range between $4,000 and $7,000 apiece.
Compare that to the price of a permanent 100-bed shelter that can take several months to build and cost between $4 million and $5 million, according to city estimates.
“I think it’s great because, you know what I mean, people out here have been through a lot and stuff and they haven’t been getting the help they need,” said Sacramento resident Stan Collier.
But for those experiencing homelessness, the proposed project does not go far enough.
“They need to be bigger, they need like a trailer or something like that, that’s what they need,” said Les Wainstott who is homeless.
Homeless advocate Crystal Sanchez said she worries about privacy and the potential conflict from sleeping in such close quarters.
“Putting people together in a box like that to me just jeopardizes them. They need their own space,” she told FOX40.
Although the proposal brings questions, Councilman Harris said at least it gives people a safe place to sleep and a night off the streets.
“It’s a way to get people stabilized and work on their issues so that they can be successful in real housing,” he said.
The structures are already in use in places like Dallas and Seattle.
Two Sacramento City Council members, as well as the mayor, have expressed interest at the possibility of trying them out. It will be up for discussion in an upcoming City Council meeting.