SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Sacramento Homeless Union is demanding Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s resignation following four homeless deaths during last week’s rain and windstorm.
The calls are punctuated by the city not opening emergency warming shelters on the storm’s most severe night, including the downtown library that had sheltered homeless just the night before.
“He should have immediately opened every building. We knew the storm was coming, winds of 60 mph. He did not use his authority as mayor to protect 11,000 people on the streets of Sacramento,” Crystal Sanchez, the President of Sacramento Homeless Union, told FOX40 Sunday. “Last year, we lost 138 people. How many more people do we need to lose?”
“Of course, a warming shelter should’ve been open on Tuesday night. I made the request,” Steinberg said.
But he said the policy in place, involved an “artificial temperature criteria.”
The temperature was not forecast to hit the 32-degree threshold that triggers the opening of a city warming center.
“All night long, I received calls from people terrified, as they were left to die on the streets and rivers of the state and in this county and city,” Sanchez said.
The next day, the council declared a weather emergency and opened the downtown warming center despite not hitting 32 degrees.
“I am doing my very best. I always have,” Steinberg said.
The mayor said he’s brought more resources to Sacramento to bring those experiencing homelessness indoors.
“The issue of alleviating the intolerable issues for people who are unsheltered and homeless has been part of my core, not just for weeks or months or years. But for decades,” Steinberg said. “I know I must do more. We all must do more. Because in the end, the people are right to hold any of us accountable.”
The city also opened a parking garage downtown for those experiencing homelessness to safely sleep in their cars, with security guards and access to a bathroom.
“Every journey starts with a step. And bringing people indoors is not the end. But it’s the necessary step in many cases, to help get people permanently out of the condition of homelessness into more permanent housing,” Steinberg said.
He vows to open warming centers every night at least until the end of the winter.
“We’re not shutting down,” Steinberg said.
“I know that they’re putting in efforts, but this is a little late,” Sanchez said.