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Homeless camp downtown Sacramento next to Steinberg sign. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Sacramento Mayor Proposes Spreading the Homeless Throughout the City

Compassion means not giving people a comfortable setting making them want to stay and be taken care of

By Katy Grimes, August 5, 2021 8:37 am

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the Sacramento City Council and City Manager gave themselves big raises in May, as crime spiked in the city, as the drug-addicted homeless multiplied, while the city was still in the red tier of the Governor’s COVID lockdown, and as council members proposed cutting $30 million from the police department budget.

Now Steinberg wants to open homeless shelters, tiny homes and tent encampments in 20 residential neighborhoods and locations around the city, SacBee.com reported. Because eradicating the drug-addicted homeless from areas where families live, children play, youth athletes play, and neighbors walk, run, exercise and recreate is not on the table – and never has been.

Homeless camp on 16th Street exit, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

This isn’t the Mayor’s and City Council’s first attempt to spread the homeless love around the city. In December, the Globe reported, “Rather than finding ways to get Sacramento’s large homeless population the emergency medical and mental health services they need, Mayor Darrell Steinberg is threatening city residents with tent cities in their neighborhoods. Calling Sacramento residents ‘NIMBYs,’ Steinberg wants the city council to adopt a ‘master plan’ – essentially a map marking potential properties across the city.”

Steinberg also approved tiny apartments in a renovated old downtown hotel, which cost more than $445,000 per unit for about 250 square feet of living space, as the Globe reported. This project only benefitted the union contractors.

Beds aren’t what Sacramento’s homeless need. Providing an apartment, tent or tiny home will only exacerbate the problem if the street vagrants do not receive treatment for their drug and alcohol addiction issues, and severe mental illness.

Homeless tent Sutterville Road, Wm. Land Park, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

The Mayor has been exposed to several successful programs dealing with homelessness including Sacramento’s St. John’s Program for Real Change and San Antonio-based Haven For Hope. But those programs actually help change the lives of the drug addicted and mentally ill by focusing first on sobriety and treatment.

Allowing people to live on the streets, in camps, in their own filth, is cruel. Putting drug addicts and the mentally ill in tiny homes, apartments or motels never addresses how they became homeless in the first place, or the root of the real problem whether it truly is just homelessness, or is a larger mental illness issue.

Providing a roof over the heads of mentally ill drug addicts only enables their behavior. Where is the plan to change that behavior? The Globe has asked the Mayor and City Council this question many times, but it remains unanswered.

If homelessness in California was sincerely and thoughtfully addressed, the state and federal funding would stop flowing. It’s a giant funding scheme.

Sacramento homeless camp and RVs. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Filthy rat-infested Homeless encampments are everywhere in the city, including locations where Steinberg is proposing making them official – under freeways, along streets and sidewalks, along frontage roads, bordering golf courses, along the rivers, in city parks and residential neighborhoods. People living in dilapidated RVs and beat-up cars line city streets while Mayor Steinberg continues to collect state and federal funding. We have no idea where this funding goes because according to Sacramento’s Homeless Services Coordinator, the city’s Continuum of Care is administered through Sacramento Steps Forward, a Non-Governmental-Organization which directly receives federal funding for homelessness for Sacramento County. Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency also receives “homeless” funding. So far, funding only seems to attract more drug-addicted homeless to the Capitol City… like feeding stray cats does.

A glaring comment from the article explains the attitude with the city:

“It’s really disappointing that the wealthier neighborhoods did not step up in the same way to make the plan more equitable across on the board,” said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.

Mr. Erlenbusch may have a point if residents of those neighborhoods were even consulted or allowed to address the City Council. But this was all done behind closed doors – again.

Since his election as Mayor of Sacramento in 2016, Steinberg’s schemes to help the homeless have only resulted in growing Sacramento’s homeless population: “The plan includes opening a large 350-bed campus-style shelter at location yet to be disclosed, converting six motels into shelter or housing, increasing motel and housing vouchers, and adding more scattered site housing.”

And now he plans to spread the homeless out: “Every district in this city will be represented in this plan,” Steinberg said.

Sacramento homeless camp. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

In a 2018 interview with Dr. Ben Carson, then-U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, about HUD’s approach to decreasing homelessness in cities throughout the country, he said that California is not approaching the homeless and transient problem correctly by allowing the massive tent cities to flourish; he said it costs cities less to get the homeless off the street than to deal with filthy homeless encampments and the ensuing health and disease concerns. Dr. Carson is also a believer in not making the homeless too comfortable. “Compassion means not giving people ‘a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me,’” Carson told the New York Times last year.

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16 thoughts on “Sacramento Mayor Proposes Spreading the Homeless Throughout the City

  1. Gee, I’m not really sure anymore who is worse: Sac Mayor Steinberg or L.A. Mayor (Yoga Pants) Garcetti. Too bad Biden didn’t find an ambassadorship for Steinberg as he did for Garcetti in a country far, far, away from California.
    This is a great article. Katy Grimes and The Globe’s coverage of California’s ever-worsening homeless/vagrant disaster remains the Gold Standard on the subject. Sure hope the gubernatorial candidates will catch it. We should all send a copy to their campaigns so they will be sure to have the straight dope on this topic. Gov Gav (who will soon be recalled, God willing) and his entourage of CA mayors never paid any attention at all. Thus Californians (including those on the streets) have continued to suffer in every possible way as the urban hellholes get worse and worse over time with only non-solutions offered by the leadership. At this point everyone in CA rightly suspects that these non-solutions will continue to benefit only our ruling class of so-called elites and their friends in the Homeless Industrial Complex.

  2. I agree with the general thrust of this article. It seems that officials, at least in Sacramento, appear to be attempting to “normalize homelessness” for some reason. It’s not clear why they would want to do this. I’ve always respected Ben Carson and thought he was the best cabinet member in the Trump administration.

    1. P.S. I felt that this add-on statement was gratuitous uncalled for – “like feeding stray cats does.”

  3. Responding to Raymond’s post as to why politicians seem to wish to “normalize homelessness’: It is too hard for them to figure a way to actually get people off the street and rehabilitated. You have to remember, it is not always the smartest people who get elected; it is the most opportunistic ones that do. Solving the problem required people to think. The current crop of politicians can not think past how to raise money for themselves and their pet causes. As long as politicians believe the crisis serves their needs, a real solution will not happen.

    1. Great comments, Leonard.
      The brightest and best are scared away from public service and who can blame them.

    2. Leonard, what you say about politicians may be true. However, it doesn’t explain why this appears to be an especially prevalent in certain parts of the state, e.g., in large metropolitan areas. We have homeless but we don’t have nearly this kind of problem and Democrats control our city as well. Generalizing about “politicians” doesn’t get to specific differences in thinking or why there would be a difference from one city to the next. Perhaps a general “nimby” thinking among the citizenry is part of the problem?

  4. Steinbergs Equity Translation:
    All should share in filth, stench, disease,vermin, sticky unidentified substances, broken grocery carts that double as storage and strewn, stolen bicycle parts.

    Yes, who does not want that in their neighborhood?
    You, me and just about everyone!

    Ya know the neighborhood you are proud to call home. The neighborhood that provides stability and a sense of safety and security. It’s about to become a literal shitehole if this happens.

    The so called equity they preach about should be about lifting up everyone not bringing everyone down! Seems to be a democrat,marxist tool. This is what happens when government becomes centralized and makes decisions based on emotion and willfully ignoring reality!

    As Katy stated it is obscenely cruel to allow these poor souls to continue on and not receive the mental health and drug rehab services to have another chance at life. Who knows maybe they too some day will earn a safe and secure home.
    Housing first is a failed strategy. Help first, then house.

  5. This is all part of the Democrat “no safe spaces” plan to destroy America. Weaponize the homeless and then move them in to your neighborhood. Only elites will be able to live in walled compounds with armed security. Everyone else will be terrorized endlessly.

  6. Major Democrat run cities have this issue, with so much money being spent on, early release from prison, and laws like SF to supply those who are kept addicted.

    My question with all these democrat run cities pushing for Social worker handling police duties, where are they on these homeless to get them the mental health? or what happened to JOBSCORPs housing by teaching them to “fish”. They did this before and i noticed their housing in San Jose disappear for one.

    It surely seems politicians are using the money for other means than providing what homeless need to straighten up like Mental health, preparing them for work, and educating (not indoctrinating), but for some reason money does not go there yet money is found to give them REI Tents, and supply them with Syringes.

    I think by spreading them around – the plan is to raise crime rates where they move ’em – so more people scream for a federal police system

    1. As long as the tent and other supplies are less than $950, they are free for the stealing. Meanwhile, Steinberg (wasn’t he appointed by Newsom to lead a homelessness task force?) and other Democrat administrations have no accountability for the taxpayer dollars their failure funds.

  7. Whether it’s SF or LA or Sacto, the problem is the same: “I demand to pitch my tent in the best part of town…who are you to prevent me?…the only reason I’m in a tent is the cost of housing… how dare you force me to move to the boondocks!” Even Dem voters will demand a reckoning soon. Hopefully in 6 weeks…

    1. Cheapskate, have those cities that you mention been declared officially a “Sanctuary City”? How do all these sanctuary cities compare to the non-sanctuary cities in California? As far as I know, my city is a non-sanctuary city. It seems to matter. This was one of the topics that came up in the debate last night.

  8. When DS moves a bunch into his own neighborhood first, I’ll start listening to his “plan.” But Semitic tribes always expect others to carry the weight for them, so that’ll never happen.

  9. My solution I proposed 30 years ago is simple – house these folks in trailers at the local landfills where they must abide by a simple set of rules and for the free place to hang out they in return mine the landfills for metals and other recyclables. Simple, humane & solves multiple problems!

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