School district to decide if it wants to support South Natomas shelter idea

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SOUTH NATOMAS, Calif. (KTXL) -- On Wednesday, Letycia Huerta Trejo echoed other parents at Garden Valley Elementary School after 49 tiny home shelters were proposed for a five-acre site on Northgate Boulevard.

The site is directly across the street from the South Natomas campus that serves working families whose kids walk to and from school.

The area has its share of homeless but Huerta Trejo said a shelter should go “in another place.”

Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris would be a rich man for every time he has heard that. He stuck his neck out in trying to hunt up sites in his district for homeless shelters since the Railroad Avenue winter triage shelter closed down last year.

“I understand the fearful reaction but it is not the reality,” he told FOX40.

The Northgate Boulevard site is practical because it is bordered by a busy business corridor and has a bus stop.

Harris said shelters change street behavior.

“A homeless shelter doesn’t mean lack of safety. It doesn't mean trash,” the councilman said. "It doesn’t mean pit bulls running wild. It actually means just the opposite.”

What makes the site so attractive for homeless advocates is that the city already owns the land.

Despite assurances, some parents and residents still said they were worried about traffic, as well as drug use, trash and the mentally ill.

“That’s not fair because the people that say, 'That's a good idea. That’s a good proposal,' but they don’t live here,” Huerta Trejo said.

The Twin Rivers Unified School District is preparing a resolution to oppose Harris’ homeless shelter proposal.

“I think we’re getting hit very, very hard,” said school board member Rebecca Sandoval.

Sandoval said the old winter shelter was placed a few miles down the street and drew more homeless to the area.

She said her district already serves 2,000 homeless students.

“We do a lot and I think it’s time to look elsewhere,” Sandoval said. “Jeff Harris has a large area in which to work with.”

Harris is also moving forward with a shelter at the Motel 6 near upscale McKinley Park.

Some who think schools and homeless shelters don’t mix think a compromise might work.

“Shelters are needed because there are a lot of people out on the streets. But if they have 24-hour security,” said neighbor Diana Wiley.

Harris said he expects more emotional backlash from residents against shelters in their neighborhoods.

“We have to go through this period of angst until we have a few shelters up and running and people see this isn’t so bad,” he told FOX40.

Harris said the shelter is just in the “idea” stage because funding is not secured. Meanwhile, the Twin Rivers board will vote on the resolution opposing the shelter on Jan. 28. The City Council is not bound by the outcome of that vote.

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