SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg mentioned everything from economic recovery to police reform in his State of the City address Wednesday.
The mayor also said he has a plan to end homelessness in Sacramento.
“Fundamentally, I want to state the public policy of this city clearly, that everyone lives indoors and that the government is obligated to help make that happen,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg acknowledged previous approaches to addressing homelessness in the city have not been effective on a large scale.
“Everything we do in this area at all levels of government is optional and voluntary, and I think the results speak for themselves,” the mayor said.
In 2019, during the city’s last Point-in-Time Count, there were roughly 5,500 unhoused people on any given night in Sacramento, but advocates say that number is far higher.
Wednesday, the mayor announced a desire to hold both the city and unhoused citizens to a standard that essentially equates to a zero-tolerance policy for homelessness.
“Today, I propose that our city be the first to enact both a legal right to safe shelter and housing and a parallel obligation for unsheltered people to accept that shelter and housing when it is offered,” Steinberg said. “No city or state has paired such a right and obligation together.”
On the government side, Steinberg wants Sacramento to offer shelter to every person in need of it, in part by funding and enacting a city plan that includes homeless shelters, tiny homes and safe parking sites.
“I propose that the city put forward $75 million from a combination of American Rescue Plan money, the state budget, other federal sources and our own homeless Housing Trust Fund to carry out our homeless housing master plan,” the mayor explained.
On the citizen side, Steinberg said wants to require every homeless person to take the housing when it’s offered.
“If for whatever reason it’s not working for them and they don’t want to do it, then you have got to choose a different city,” he said.
Joe Smith, the advocacy director for Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, said he has concerns about the quality of the housing to be provided and the potential over-policing of people experiencing homelessness.
“I think it’s a very tricky balancing act what he’s proposing,” Smith told FOX40.
Steinberg insists no one would be jailed for refusing to take offered housing, however, he did not give specifics about how the proposed policy would be enforced.
During his speech, Steinberg also announced the recipient of the 2021 Mort Friedman Legacy Award, Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the county’s public health officer.