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Broadway Street, Sacramento, CA

California’s Homeless Epidemic: The Silent Majority Cannot Stay Quiet

Business owners must speak out about the serious issues the transient population inflicts on their businesses

By Ramona Russell, August 23, 2019 8:57 am

The more people who stayed quiet, referring to themselves as the ‘silent majority,’ the worse it was for the ones who didn’t.


As a California native, what I have seen happen to this state and my neighborhood, which used to be one of the safest in the city of Sacramento, is shocking. In the past few years, we’ve had several homeless camps where shootings, stabbings and large fires have occurred in broad daylight. Whether you live on a busy street or quiet one, residents have found people passed out on their porch, needles on their property and large objects thrown at their cars.

Not a day goes by without a post on Next Door or social media where someone’s packages were stolen off a front porch, or car break-ins, and garage and home break-ins. And because many homeowners now have security cameras, we now recognize the people committing these crimes as transients camping in the area.

What I was seeing didn’t match what elected officials were telling us: they claim that this was strictly a housing issue. So, in 2017 I started an advocacy group for my community. We went to meetings, met with law enforcement and went on ride-alongs, talked to business owners, residents, transients and documented everything we saw. It wasn’t long before we realized this was a serious drug addiction and mental health crisis.

When a few us first started speaking out in the media, we were harassed online, lied about and the local press edited our interviews to make it sound controversial, leaving out important details about what we were experiencing. This only made others fearful about going public—especially business owners, who, understandably, worried they will lose customers. And the more people who stayed quiet, referring to themselves as the “silent majority,” the worse it was for the ones who didn’t.

Liz Novak, Twitter

Since elected politicians and the media give more attention to business owners, they have a more powerful voice, as we saw this week when Liz Novak, who owns a salon located off the Broadway corridor in Sacramento, made a video stating that she closed her business due to multiple transient-related issues, calling out Governor Gavin Newsom.

Novak, who was in business for 15 years, said she had to clean up needles, human feces and urine from her doorstep. She had been yelled at, harassed, was the victim of two burglaries, had her door smashed and has found people passed out in front. She said clients were complaining and too afraid to walk to their cars alone.

Both Novak and her husband were worried for her safety, so out of desperation she made a video, not knowing what else to do. Since posting that video to her Twitter, she has given multiple local and national interviews and said the support has been 97 percent positive and supportive, which has given her a sense of relief, empowerment and validation. Novak, who battled drug addiction and alcoholism on and off for 15 years, says, “We are making it too easy for people to stay addicts; I want to see them get the help they need.”

A nearby business owner, Laurie Foor of Dandelion Spa, which is located two blocks from a recent residential drug lab bust by the Sacramento Police Department, also had similar issues, including two break-ins, their front door smashed and needles with intoxicated people on their doorstep. The scariest incident was when a man who was screaming in the street threw a large object against their window, completely smashing it, right where a client was sitting inside.

Foor has been followed and harassed by the transients who camp nearby and said she is tired of apologizing to her customers for the area. “I just want to feel safe at my place of business, doing what I love with my clients of 15 years.”

Michael Sampino of Joe Marty’s, located on the Broadway corridor, said he has had to intervene several times at his restaurant and even at nearby businesses because of violent transients. He has detained people and waited for police to arrive, but many times they are unable to make an arrest.

Recently, he helped a female who was about to be assaulted by a transient at the Starbucks across the street, and the last time he was in Walgreens, a transient came in and stole several items and walked out. When he asked the staff if they were going to do something, they said they weren’t allowed even though that particular person comes in three times a week to steal. Despite the many issues in the area, he says, “I have always protected my customers and neighbors, and not tolerated this behavior, which is why I believe we are seeing a serious decline in problems at the restaurant.”

The crime we are experiencing is not just in the city of Sacramento, but the entire region. Rhina Delgado, a real estate agent who moved to California seven years ago, said both she and her colleagues have serious issues with transients breaking into homes for sale. Last week, a listing she had in Carmichael was broken into, and the house was completely ransacked, leaving 15 needles and trash behind. Police came and told her there wasn’t much they could do; the owner pulled it off the market a few days later.

Not only is Delgado seeing her business suffer, but her husband’s as well. His dental office in Fair Oaks has been greatly affected by a nearby business, which is allowing transients to camp on their property. She is extremely frustrated by what she is experiencing at home and when she travels.

“We just went to San Francisco with our two small children. Less than one minute after parking our car, a transient started to break into it. We yelled at him, which scared him off and then called police.” Delgado said the front of the hotel where they stayed was disgusting and they will not be coming back to the city. “California has a huge problem, and I don’t understand why this is allowed to happen.”

Sacramento transients

Ray McNally, of the award-winning political consulting and public affairs firm, McNally Temple Associates, has been doing extensive polling on these issues throughout the state. “The key thing we’ve found is that people have compassion for the homeless and aren’t blaming them as much as they’re blaming politicians for not solving the problem. They see things getting worse, despite millions being spent, and they’re concerned for their safety and personal property, because of transients with serious substance abuse and mental health issues.”

McNally says that the well-intended legislation, such as Proposition 47, which decriminalized theft, drug use and possession, while eliminating real incentive for treatment, was the perfect storm and had the opposite effect. “When we moved into our office in downtown Sacramento in 1989, there was a halfway house and a methadone clinic nearby. We worked hard to clean it up and had great success, but in the last four years, it’s become worse than it was then.”

“At what point do elected officials admit what they’re doing isn’t working?” McNally asked. “How is it compassionate to leave someone with serious mental health or substance abuse issues on the street and pretend you’re letting them live a life of freedom and dignity?”

McNally added, “We work with law enforcement who tell us many of the homeless are drug addicts and sex offenders who refuse services, yet politicians continue to base policy on the small number who are on the street because they lost their home. The voters no longer believe this is a housing issue.”

Ramona Russell is a writer, advocate and public relations and social media strategist, and the creator of Save Sac, an advocacy group whose focus is the public health and safety for the city of Sacramento, California.

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21 thoughts on “California’s Homeless Epidemic: The Silent Majority Cannot Stay Quiet

  1. Comprehensive, intelligent writing of what is going on in many places these days. Our “open boarder” advocates should be clear as to the effects of that “policy” as a serious hazard to our lives, businesses, and health. Wake up politicians and get your job done!!.

  2. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! REALIZE…that this has gone on with DEMOCRATICS deciding how to govern our state. ENOUGH! If you don’t like what is happening, DON’T MOVE, speak up, WE, the taxpayers need to be heard. Too bad Newsom, and Sacramento’s mayor could care less about what we think. The only way for them to hear us is VOTE THEM OUT!!!????????

    1. I absolutely agree we need to vote out the elected officials who are part of the problem or who chose to stay quiet.

  3. Hello Ramona,
    Great Article!
    We need to get Prop 47 repealed and vote in local and state candidates who have common sense solutions.
    It is not fair to California residents or the homeless who need serious intervention.
    Enough is enough!

  4. Could it be politicians enable these horrific conditions to protect the suppliers of drugs to rich donors and themselves?
    Maybe public officials should be drug tested.
    Aren’t these health hazards violations of OSHA if not common decency? Can’t business owners sue the city for damages to their property and livelihoods?

  5. The homeless problem is a result of 50 years of liberal programs and policies. The homeless are often the offspring of loser, welfare, single mother parents who grifted off the taxpayer, just like their own parents probably did. Couple this with a bunch of out-of-touch millionaire government employees, liberal women, the over educated, and other people who live in the make believe economy, and you have all the ingredients for a homeless problem. The way to solve it is to relocate the homeless to heavily Democrat voting areas like Marin County, Davis, Sacramento, Santa Monica, LA, etc. Then sit back and watch the raping and looting! Eventually, the liberals will overreact and set up concentration camps, just like socialists, uh I mean Nazis, Stalinists, and Maoists have always done in the past. The liberals will once again be wearing the farmer’s clothes, just like they always end up doing. Meanwhile, real Americans will be working at real jobs, paying too much in taxes and fees, and supporting the new bourgeoisie (Democrats) who control the means of distribution of wealth. Real Americans don’t incite violence, like Antifa and other Democrat Brownshirts, but they are becoming more prepared to finish what the bottom feeders of society start.

  6. Me, well I am just leaving the state. I am sure I dont have the will, time etc to wait till it gets better. It is
    not going to get better. I will not tell you where I am going, but it is somewhere when law and order are
    enforced. It is not…………CA. Besides the drug and mental crisis, the State of CA only thinks of additional
    ways to get revenue from us so they can employ their cronies. I am going to depend on men in Black to
    protect us.

  7. Unfortunately, Business Owners are the Target of Newsom. If we stand up – we might as well draw a red circle on our chest and wait for any number of the CA Gov to come audit us or inspect or fee and fine. Its up to the VOTERS to stop this. Unfortunately, CA has accomplished voter fraud to the extent that its become give up the vote. We cant stop them now…. Too many Gov, union and tax sucking special interests out there to get a majority in turning the tide. With money like the LimoLibs and Zuck – funding against rational solutions, this is going to get much worse and unlikely to get better.

    1. Nannette, more business owners are speaking out since Liz Novak’s video. There was a huge article that came out today in the UK about the exact location I wrote about, where many business owners were interviewed, including the local transients. There were lots of photos that show what we are dealing with.

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