SACRAMENTO — “Immediate relief.”
That’s what Mayor Steinberg said was need for Sacramento’s homeless problem, shortly before the city council took an unanimous vote to adopt package of remedies some feel are still lacking in focus.
The community dinner served outside of city hall is now an old, familiar sight – a symbol of the fight for answers for the homeless.
Inside this Tuesday, something new on the issue.
In a city that’s stopped people from sleeping on sidewalks with its anti-camping ordinance, councilman Allen Warren was on the agenda with proposals for a tent city in his district and a request for his fellow council members to find space for the same.
“That will do something immediately…and I think it will do something really beneficial for people’s lives,” said homeless advocate Braeden Murphy.
“If you’re a homeless person on the streets… you want to know ‘Where do I go so I don’t die tonight you know? Where do I go in case it starts raining hard to where I don’t get so soaked that I don’t freeze to death?'”
Murphy, who’s met personally with the mayor about these issues, is not as big of a fan of the housing voucher program which was also on the night’s agenda.
That plan would free up at least 160 of the housing authority’s turnover units for a preference for placement of the homeless.
“What seems to happen is we seem to talk about vouchers and permanent housing to distract from the fact of today, tomorrow and the next day,” said Murphy.
“Another thing we gotta remember with the vouchers is that if I give a voucher to a homeless person, it’s potentially a single mom with two kids who might not get it or someone else on the fringe of homelessness and might get evicted. We’re not making any more housing, just shuffling around the housing that already is,” he said.
Homeless himself and a vocal advocate for those without shelter, James Faygo Clark is also worried about relying on a preference system.
“It’s creating a revolving door. New people are gonna be out and if the infrastructure isn’t put together solidly…then it’s not gonna work,” offered Clark.
Braeden Murphy isn’t homeless.
He also lives in Folsom, but given the challenges he’s faced battling cerebral palsy he says he has to fight for others whose obstacles aren’t so obvious.
“We’re all struggling and we all have problems. And it’s not on us to judge why people are in certain situations and just help the people who need it,” he said.
Directors of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Authority, who would oversee the program, said success depends on their funding, city funding and a commitment from the county staying on track.
Already under President Trump’s administration, the SHRA is looking at a $2.5 million cut over the next six months.
Sacramento county leaders have pledged to work on the problem with its largest city.
Mayor Steinberg says he wants to see 1,755 people off the streets in the next 2-3 years without being replaced by a new crop of those needing shelter.