Sacramentans express mixed emotions about mayor’s zero-tolerance homelessness policy proposal

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Unhoused Sacramentans are weighing in on a new proposal making headlines.  

The mayor of Sacramento is calling for what would amount to a zero-tolerance policy for homelessness. He wants the city to be required to offer housing to those who need it, but people living on the streets would also be required to take it. 

“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 and that, ultimately, individuals have to say yes to the offer,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg during his State of the City address last month.

Steinberg ​proposed spending $75 million to provide housing to everyone who needs it.​ 

​But he wants to pair that with a potentially history-making requirement that homeless people be required to take the housing when it’s offered. They would not be allowed to choose to stay on the streets. 

“I’d rather be in the house than homeless,” said Allen Bell, who has been homeless for two years. 

“I’d rather be in the house than homeless, too, but there’s going to be stipulations,” said Joseph Moore, who has been homeless for three years.

Bell said he ​thinks it’s a reasonable, and even a welcome, trade-off. But Moore told FOX40 the policy feels like the government trying to control people. 

“Just another way to have somebody shackled,” Moore said.

Both men ​agreed the type of housing offered would make a difference in whether people experiencing homelessness would voluntarily leave the streets. 

”Studio apartments for a person to stay there by himself or is it going to be bunkers like bunk beds in prison and stuff?” Moore questioned. 

​Both also said they don’t want to live with anyone else, so motels and tiny home options would be preferable to shelters. 

“It’s nothing to me. I’d rather be inside anyways than be out here,” Brandon “Bingo” Jackson told FOX40.

Jackson said he’s been homeless for eight years. While he’s currently waiting for a motel voucher that will allow him to bring his dog with him, he told FOX40 he and many of his other unhoused neighbors have formed a community. 

He thinks some might resist housing that’s far from that community, and will struggle with life indoors.

“A lot of people are going to want to go in, but then it’s like once they go in for a period of time, they’ll come right back out here,” Jackson explained.

Moore also worried about what will happen to people who refuse. Joe Smith, the advocacy director for Loaves and Fishes, shared that concern.

“Any kind of legal problems for a person experiencing homelessness is just going to set them back,” Smith said.

He said it’s a shame since a commitment to house everyone could be a huge step forward for the city.

Mayor Steinberg has not yet announced the details of his plan or brought it before city council.

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