Home>Articles>Sacramento Claims There Won’t be Money to Continue Funding Existing Homeless Shelters

Homeless camp, F St. and 30th, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Sacramento Claims There Won’t be Money to Continue Funding Existing Homeless Shelters

Is it all about the money, and not solving the devastating homeless crisis on city streets?

By Katy Grimes, March 4, 2022 2:34 am

Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan “raised an alarm this week about funding for the city’s existing homeless shelters even as the City Council pushes to open more large sites to address the community’s growing homelessness crisis,” the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.

The city has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the state and federal government over the course of many years. Where did the money go? Or is this just saber rattling for more money?

“Chan this week told the council the city can’t count on having the $33 million it needs to provide the roughly 1,000 spaces it currently offers past July 1. That’s in contrast to the council’s August direction to free up $100 million to open 20 new sites for homeless shelters, tiny homes and Safe Ground sanctioned encampments,” the Bee reported.

$33 million to provide 1,000 spaces is $33,000 per space. Who is the city paying that kind of money? What is it going to take to get to the bottom of this bottomless pit of homeless funding?

However, Chan wisely warned the council Tuesday, “It’s important we don’t get side tracked by new sites. We have not yet identified funding for the current (ones).”

Earlier this week, the Globe reported on the labyrinth of city “programs” and “services” which few homeless people can actually access on their own:

On the City of Sacramento website titled “Responding to Homelessness, leads to another city website, this is what the city says about homeless programs. That website takes you to two other city pages only offering the homeless  “Safe Parking” in a parking lot on the southern section of Front Street. Eventually another link takes you to housing programs coordinated through Sacramento Steps Forward “for transitional or permanent housing,” because the city’s focus is on “housing first,” a losing holdover from the Obama administration.

The Globe also warned:

“if the City of Sacramento isn’t successful in helping the thousands of lost souls into legitimate programs, they don’t shut down. They don’t lose money. And no one is fired.

Instead, those who run city programs say they need more funding, because really, these are government jobs programs. The purpose of the program is secondary.”

The Bee reports Sacramento County has an estimated 10,000 unhoused individuals (it’s more than 11,000), “and all shelter beds and spaces are full on any given night. Because of the crisis, the council is charging ahead with at least two new large sites, which Mayor Darrell Steinberg is calling ‘hubs.’”

“We get the money in this city,” Steinberg said. “We do. I’ve been pretty successful at it. We’re successful at it together. And these larger projects could be the opportunity we have been seeking for a long time.”

Is it all about the money, and not solving the devastating homeless crisis on city streets?

The Mayor and City Council now calls Sacramento’s drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless vagrant population the “unhoused,” “people experiencing homelessness,” “guests,” and “our unhoused neighbors,” as if these really are our neighbors who were just one paycheck away from living on the streets.

Demonstrating lack of effectiveness, Mayor Steinberg floated an alarming idea at his State of the City address last week: with so many state workers continuing to work remotely long-term, he’d like to utilize empty state offices for housing the city’s homeless.

And that is the primary problem with how Mayor Steinberg has addressed homelessness – as if it’s a housing problem, rather than a mental health and drug addiction problem.

The Bee reports: “City officials have for months been trying to acquire a downtown building at an unidentified location, and it could be finalized soon,” Chan said. “This downtown site, which we obviously cannot be public about in terms of its location yet, is a tremendous opportunity, not only for our collaboration with the county…but also what it could mean for a more comprehensive campus kind of approach,” Steinberg said. “It all takes a long time, too long, but I think we are getting there on this particular opportunity.”

Smoke and mirrors?

The city created “Sacramento Steps Forward” in 2009 as a “policy committee,” and in 2011, the City/County turned it into a non-profit organization. Yet Sacramento Steps Forward manages/administers all of the state and federal funding received: “The Sacramento CoC (Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care) receives and administers both Federal and State funding to support local efforts to more effectively and efficiently address homelessness in a variety of capacities,” Sacramento Steps Forward says in its 2019-2020 Annual Report.

Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care. (Photo: Sacramento Steps Forward 2019-2020 Annual Report)

The Globe tried to access other Sacramento Steps Forward annual reports since 2011 on its website, but there are no live links.

In 2019-2020, Sacramento Steps Forward received $25,990,012 from the State, and $23,349,292 from the Federal government (above). Most of the nearly $50 million was earmarked for housing. They spent nearly $802,000 on “administration.” 

Notably, mental health and drug addiction treatment is not identified on these charts.

In the 2019-2020 Annual Report, Sacramento Steps Forward acknowledges 11,222 homeless in Sacramento. And that number is not all-inclusive because they do not count those already in shelters, even temporarily.

Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care. (Photo: Sacramento Steps Forward 2019-2020 Annual Report)

Of the 11,222 homeless people in Sacramento in 2019-2020, Sacramento Steps Forward says “2,761 people achieved permanent housing, 4,418 people remained connected to the system. The system lost contact with 4,043 people.”

So Sacramento spent nearly $4,400 per homeless person in 2019-2020, only to “lose contact” with 4,043, and “house” 2,761. And it took $50 million to do this?

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions is what Sacramento Steps Forward does, explained in their “leadership and engagement” of:

“As a leading voice in the Homeless Response System, we are committed to collaborating with our partners and facilitating system connections to build upon our current systems. We focus on strengthening our community’s response to homelessness through the use of data and analytics to drive system-level changes, prioritizing racial equity, and enhancing access to services.”

They say they are “committed,” but only to “collaborating” with “partners to build upon our current systems.”

That’s no commitment at all.

Their real “commitment” is here:

“Designated by the community as the Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care (CoC) lead agency to receive U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding and undertaking planning activities and projects should receive funding.”

Sacramento Steps Forward was created to receive money from the government?

“Our staff then works with selected agencies and their projects to ensure compliance with funding requirements. We provide guidance about how funds can be used appropriately and assistance with reporting how that money has been invested.”

Sacramento Steps Forward then guides “select agencies” on how the government money can be used.

Sacramento Steps Forward also collects data on the homeless.

In their Annual Report revenue and expenses section, the $23,349,292 from the Federal Government is not listed:

Sacramento City and County Continuum of Care. (Photo: Sacramento Steps Forward 2019-2020 Annual Report)

Which leads us to the original question: How does Sacramento not have funding to maintain existing homeless shelters when it received “$22,466,281 Permanent Supportive Housing, Rapid-Re-Housing,” as the 2019-2020 Annual Report identifies. We know Sacramento received more federal funds for housing since 2020. Sacramento was on the 2021 HUD list of 651 grantees including states, counties and city governments; Sacramento received $9,125,315.

The Globe contacted Sacramento Steps Forward Executive Director Lisa Bates with questions about the state and federal grants they received, and how they reported funding on their annual IRS Form 990. Janet Rice with Sacramento Steps Forward called back.

Ms. Rice said that the Annual Report shows funding covering multiple years, and the IRS form 990 was reflecting only actual funding received, and then audited.

She said Bates “wanted to have some firm numbers for the Annual Report reflect part of actual funding received.”

Rice also said when they issued the 2019-2020 Annual Report, their 2020 audit was not done until 2021.

It really didn’t add up. The Globe sought out a second opinion from local government watchdog, Eye On Sacramento think tank President Craig Powell.

“Sacramento Steps Forward has manifestly failed in its basic mission to reduce homelessness,” Powell told the Globe. “It operates in a no man’s land between city and county government with neither government directly responsible or accountable for its chronic failure to perform.”

“Its information management system, which homeless people are supposed to depend upon, is a an unmitigated disaster,” Powell continued. “Ironically, city and county governments are putting Sacramento Steps Forward in charge of overseeing a new multi-year, multi-million dollar project to replace its current info management system.  The prognosis for its success is not good.”

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11 thoughts on “Sacramento Claims There Won’t be Money to Continue Funding Existing Homeless Shelters

  1. When Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and City Manager Howard Chan are “stuck on stupid” with the Housing First nonsense, are inexplicably crying poor and asking for more money for even THAT non-solution, are not able to make an accounting for what has already been received and spent, are suggesting downtown office space(!) for more of the same, etc., how on earth can citizens conclude that there is an earnest effort to address out-of-control homeless/vagrancy in the City of Sacramento —- or anywhere else?

    It is simply not possible for those in charge of this mess to continue to think that their non-solutions are doing anything but making the situation worse. The Globe has extensively, and for years, provided a blueprint for what would work, presented on a silver platter by the way, but nowadays they aren’t the only outlet to do this. Willful denial by govt officials and others who have a stake in the Homeless Industrial Complex would certainly explain what is going on. Would such officials like to try to offer another explanation? Would they like to try to offer ANY reasonable explanation?

    But never mind, when it’s all said and done, if those ultimately responsible for what is going on are funding only what superficially passes with the public as “help” in order to maintain power and funding for themselves and their cronies, it doesn’t take a policy genius or psychic to predict that we should look for increased worsening of the homeless/vagrant problem.

    New leadership is needed. Voters must vote in new leadership in these cities. To the extent they have viable choices and can do that without election cheating, rigging, corruption, or whatever one wants to call it, that is what they must do.

    As for whatever funny business is going on with the people in charge in cities throughout California, maybe one day a Grand Jury will be able to sort it all out. The People of the State of California can only do so much, no matter how loudly and insistently and continuously they scream for city leaders to simply do the right thing and actually apply to this horrendous situation what has been shown to work.

    1. @ShowandTell, you always contribute productive and thoughtful comments. Thank you. I also suspect with the amount of money that cannot be accounted for is being laundered. Mayor Darrell Steinberg and City Manager Howard Chan may not be “stuck on stupid”, but playing their part to ensure the money flows to illicit destinations.

      1. Thank you so much for your generous comment, Owed Nothing. (Same to you!)
        I suspect you’re not wrong about what happened to the money. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll have them dead-to-rights. Always hopeful!

  2. I have been a Social Worker for over two decades working in various county, private and state related agencies in CA and it is all about the money, the welfare industrial complex, that does nothing but feed county coffers and provide jobs and money to people who reliably vote Democrat! I know because I use to be one of those until I woke up after NOT voting for Obama the second time when I realized his promises to fight the drug epidemic, fatherless homes, etc…. were empty and to just get him elected for power, fame and money! Meanwhile those people in Chicago who he used to get elected are still dying in droves in a corrupt Democratic controlled city, kind of like CA. What these people in power are doing to the drug addicted homeless with mental health issues is disgusting and I can not believe my fellow Social Workers continue to go along with it! We are told that we would lose our jobs if we vote anything other than Democrat, what a crook of poop. The whole purpose of these awful policies, including Prop 47, is to keep people on the system, in the streets and on the dole. Welfare’s aim in CA is to keep people dependent, not to get them independent so fools like these can continue to rule over their little kingdoms. If you speak out about it as a worker you will be canned and/or stripped of your chances of promotion. As far as I am concerned they should all be brought up on charges of some kind for scamming the taxpayers and for causing the deaths of those in their care, like law enforcement would be by these very same idiots. I have tried to fight these policies, written to my crazy “reps”, McGuire, Woods and Huffman who have absolutely no experience working in the field and who love to do “roundtables” and divert millions to their minion and pet peeve programs to look good, which do NOTHING! County figureheads are all in on this, as well as the NGO’s who make bank on this money because it provides them with job security as well as their workers who are just cogs in this big machine and who were brainwashed to think this travesty was okay in college. Instead of being “social justice” warriors, whatever that means, they need to actually look at the policies that they work in and walk away until there is true change as no workers, no money. I am moving to another state where I can be an affective Social Worker that helps lift people out of poverty and off government dependence, which was the spirit of these programs, when they were first approved in the 60’s. The Democrats and some rhino Republicans have taken full advantage of those programs to make themselves rich and it is awful.

    1. Thank you so much Kristin for your detailed and informative “insider” post. It’s good to hear this from someone who has been there, seen, and experienced it all. And congratulations on seeing the light. It’s not easy but it’s worth it, I know.

    1. Oh good, more slush funds for Gavin to dole out to the Usual Suspects! In an election year! That’ll sure help! Not!
      As I just heard Michael Shellenberger (“San Fransicko”) note, “Gavin Newsom has been talking about homelessness for TWENTY YEARS.” That about says it all, dontcha think? I just wish Gavin had disclosed at the beginning of his odyssey that he intended to make the situation spiral out of control by 2022. That would have at least been honest.

  3. Maybe Sacramento Democrat Mayor Darrell Steinberg will fund Sacramento’s homeless shelters with some of the millions of dollars that have been flowing into his Steinberg Institute fund? Naw, hell will freeze over before that ever happens?

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