Council approves spending for new beds for homeless

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- As the rain comes down and the temperatures turn colder, the Sacramento City Council approved spending for new homeless shelters.

“Everything around this issue of homelessness, this life and death issue, takes far too long,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday evening as spending of about $22.5 million in private and state funds for 500 shelter beds was approved.

“We have the plans and now we have to move with greater speed and urgency to actually get the beds up,” Steinberg told FOX40.

But beds for hundreds when the problem is in the thousands?

Steinberg said because the shelters will focus on a holistic approach aimed at getting people into permanent housing, that will make a difference.

“But if the number is 5,000 and we can get 1,500 to 2,000 people off the streets every year, I hope the people can begin to see that over the course of two to three years, we actually begin making a real dent in the problems,” he said.

That may also include unconventional solutions, like small cabins assembled by First Step Communities.

“A small interim housing solution that keeps people warm and dry but also gives them privacy and dignity,” First Step Executive Director Stephen Watters said.

Their approach is to build small shelters that look and feel like homes set up in communities that look and feel like neighborhoods. They cost $7,500 to $10,000 each and take about a month to build.

“It's a good solution for the people but it's cost-effective for the community to go this way,” Watters said.

The city is currently looking at funding and locations for this potential option and continues to explore options for safe parking sites, places people who live out of the cars can park with access to restrooms, without risk of being towed.

Still, the way things stand, the first significant new shelter option -- 100 beds in Meadowview -- isn’t scheduled to open until April.

After Tuesday’s vote, the city manager and Housing Authority must bring contracts back for the council to consider to move forward with implementing the shelter plans.

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