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.
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.
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.
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.
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.