Home>Articles>Sacramento Mayor Steinberg Spending $23 Million on Another Homeless Hotel

Sacramento homeless living on X Street. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Sacramento Mayor Steinberg Spending $23 Million on Another Homeless Hotel

California has 161,548 total homeless as of 2020

By Katy Grimes, January 20, 2022 1:14 pm

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced this week the city has been awarded a $23.9 million state Homekey grant to convert a downtown hotel into housing for homelessness vagrants.

$23 million is quadruple the annual budget of many effective local programs helping homeless turn their lives around.

The City and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency announced plans to turn a Best Western hotel into a 92-unit homeless apartment complex. The apartments will have bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchenettes.

In effect, the city is in competition with known successful private programs actually changing lives. The chance for a pretty new apartment at no cost to a guy living in a tent on the sidewalk is a more attractive carrot than a program to help him get off meth and straighten his life out.

This is the third hotel being converted by the city to “permanent supportive housing” using Homekey funds. The words sound impressive, but are they?

This latest apartment complex is not going to be completed until Fall 2022 – 9 to 10 months from now.

What could possibly go wrong moving mentally-ill, drug-addicted, and former convict homeless vagrants into newly renovated apartments?

Sacramento has more than 11,000 homeless mentally-ill, drug-addicted, convicted criminals living on the streets of Sacramento as of 2020’s homeless count. It’s likely higher as of 2022.

With a population of 500,000, neighborhoods within the City of Sacramento have been ravaged by homeless vagrants allowed to live on the streets, in “safe spaces,” parking lots, in RVs, campers vans and cars, and in city parks, rather than move them into an organized large campus facility to address their needs and get treatment.

Last summer, Steinberg proposed to open homeless shelters, tiny homes and tent encampments in 20 residential neighborhoods and locations around the city. That did not go over well.

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.

The Mayor says 15 of the proposed apartment units in the Best Western will be funded by the Mental Health Services Act, the millionaire’s tax authored by Steinberg when he served in the State Assembly. Sacramento County will provide mental health treatment to those residents directly… i.e. Government mental health services.

“Residents in the remainder of the units will receive supportive services from LifeSTEPS, which serves more than 80,000 residents in 250 projects statewide,” the Mayor said.

What is LifeSTEPS? Never heard of them?

According to the Executive Director of LifeSTEPS, Beth Southorn, she “has propelled LifeSTEPS to its current status as one of the premier social services providers in affordable housing, now serving over 36,000 homes representing over 100,000 residents throughout the entire state of California.”

This number is significant if 100,000 homeless residents of the state are now housed. But LifeSTEPS does not say how many years this covers, or how hands-on they will be with the 77 remaining residents.

Just counting the state’s largest cities, California has more than 115,000 homeless living on the streets. The actual statewide total according to a 2021 federal HUD report was 161,548 in 2020 – a 7% increase from 2019. The Globe looked up the homeless statistics of the largest cities in the state and made a list (not in any particular order):

California’s largest cities homeless populations. (Photo: CA Globe)

It’s interesting and curious to compare California’s largest city, Los Angeles, and the state’s 6th largest city, Sacramento, which have the largest homeless populations in the entire state at 66,500 (LA) and 11,000 (Sac).

Even San Francisco, a city of 875,000 residents, has 8,000 homeless vagrants as of the last official count in 2019. There must be more today in 2022.

What are these cities doing wrong to have such significantly larger vagrant homeless populations? And how has California Gov. Newsom managed to increase the state’s vagrant homeless population whlie spending billions more on it since taking office in 2019?

Calling the state’s homeless vagrant population “unhoused” has justified spending billions of taxpayer dollars on housing for the homeless in lovely new apartments, renovated hotels, and tiny homes.

Just look at what the City of Sacramento says: “The City and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency will work with Danco Communities, the project developer, to turn the Best Western Sutter House at 1100 H Street into 92 units with bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchenettes,” the City says on its website.

Remember, the amount of this project is $23 million.

What could that $23 million grant do for the city’s 11,000 homeless walking the streets at night, and sleeping on them during the day?

San Antonio’s Haven For Hope Transformational Campus and Courtyard had a $20 million annual budget in 2018. Haven for Hope coordinates and delivers an efficient system of care for the homelessness in San Antonio, Texas. They have been a nationwide model for effectiveness. At the 22-acre campus, they serve 1,700 people daily in-residence on the campus, and another 700 in a low-barrier emergency shelter.

They bring multiple service providers to their campus to treat those in residential care with substance abuse and mental-health treatment, and partner with 140 organizations to provide 300 different services to the homeless including employment counseling, education, life-skills training, legal services, childcare, and many other necessary services and programs.

And they do this annually for what Mayor Steinberg wants to spend on remodeling one more hotel into 92 apartments.

Despite spending millions on futile “solutions” like tiny homes, FEMA trailers, and renovated hotel rooms for the city’s growing homeless population, Sacramento’s 11,000 transients are not receiving the treatments offered at Haven for Hope.

Nor are they receiving the residential care offered at 9-month program at the Union Gospel Mission Sacramento, which the Globe recently featured. “We feed 8,500 to 9,000 meals a month to the homeless, and even continued during COVID lockdowns,” Pastor Tim Lane told the Globe. Union Gospel Mission offers a Bible-based Twelve Step Course and Heart of Addiction program, an Anger Management Course, Weekly Counseling with their Chaplains, Assigned duties to serve the homeless community and Aftercare with attaining jobs, schooling, finances, reconciliations, transportation, and housing.

And they do this annually for about one-fifth of the cost of Mayor Steinberg’s one-time hotel renovation.

Union Gospel Mission and Haven for Hope have proven track records because at the root of their programs aren’t fancy apartments or kitsch tiny homes, but life-changing mental health and drug addiction treatment and faith-based and other programs focused on the individuals.

The governor and these big-city mayors are way out of line with these wasteful schemes spending mountains of taxpayer dollars. Do they even care about the broken people living on the streets, or is handing out money obligatory, or even too intoxicating?

Reminds me of the line from Top Gun: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”

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17 thoughts on “Sacramento Mayor Steinberg Spending $23 Million on Another Homeless Hotel

  1. Hi Katy,
    Thanks for writing this! My city just voted to go after the same grant money!
    I am so happy you brought up the San Antonio Haven for Hope program. Two years ago, many in my community urged our city leaders to follow the success of that very program . Instead, they put their hands out to grab the tainted tax dollars that come with the caveat to follow the Newsom flawed ideology, Housing First and only Housing First.
    The uninformed public that support the Hotel Room Key grant money have one goal in mind get these unhoused people off our streets. It may temporarily take a portion of them off the streets but does not address the root causes of addiction, mental illness, unskilled or uneducated to retain employment.

    It will centralize the burdens we citizens deal with on a daily basis, drugs, crime, police interactions. Now if they would also have services in that location, then maybe we all have a chance to recover from this manufactured crisis.

    Just more money being flushed out to sea and supporting the Homeless Industrialized Complex.

  2. Wow, Katy —- such a fine article that not only calls out The Usual Suspects but again provides solutions and models. Should be easy and rewarding to follow a model that has been shown to work well! On a shoestring budget, yet! Right? But nooooo…..

    Would add just a couple of items (for now) to CaliGirl’s excellent comments:
    1) As was referenced in the article there were no vagrant counts in 2020 and again in 2021, at least not in the L.A. area and not in Sacramento. Why? COVID. How ridiculous but how convenient! God only knows what the numbers are now. They would include two more years of Gov Gav letting criminals out of prison and inviting losers from across the country to do drugs and be violent without intervention in our CA cities and on our CA beaches.

    2) “What could possibly go wrong moving mentally-ill, drug-addicted, and former convict homeless vagrants into newly renovated apartments?” Pretty sure (ha) this question was meant facetiously, but Andy Bales of L.A.’s Union Rescue Mission will tell anyone who will listen straight-out what could go wrong, which is that this Housing First model ONLY MAKES A BAD PROBLEM WORSE. Worse for the addict (who is now comfortably hidden away and more than ever free to indulge) AND for the hard-working taxpaying residents whose public spaces are constantly endangered and becoming more so as we speak, never mind further uglified and stinkified everywhere one goes and with no end in sight.

    Can’t help but conclude that the powers (Steinberg and the Gang of Big City Mayors, Gov Gav and the rest) WANT to grow the homeless/vagrant population. It’s pretty obvious they don’t WANT solutions. They HATE the idea of solutions. Not only that but they will scream bloody murder and do A LOT so that the money faucet will flow forever. MONEY and POWER is the name of the game. (As you know…)

  3. Excellent article! For many years, The Salvation Army has tirelessly worked to help people get off drugs, alcohol, and mental illness issues. They operate on a shoestring budget and are quite successful. They, like those models mentioned in your article, do this for the betterment of ALL humans. What Steinberg is using grant money is likely contributing to the homelessness, NOT helping. Such a shame.

  4. Celebrating a new hotel for the homeless makes for GREAT photo opportunities. Politicians jostle for front row status at the highly publicized opening ceremony.

    But the MSM should go back to these hotels six months later and see what’s happening. They seldom do. It would not fit the progressive narrative.

  5. Sonoma County has a post fires program, which has been extended annually, allowing one RV per parcel. This can be a lifesaver to some at no cost to taxpayers. Sonoma County still does not allow second units on some larger parcels without any reason I can see.

  6. So Mayor Steinberg and the Democrat cabal on the Sacramento City Council are spending a $23.9 million state Homekey grant to convert a downtown hotel into housing for a few hundred of the more than 11,000 homelessness vagrants in Sacramento? It’s not their money so they don’t care how it’s wasted? As Katy noted in the article, the Union Gospel Mission and Haven for Hope have proven track records because at the root of their programs aren’t fancy apartments or kitsch tiny homes, but life-changing mental health and drug addiction treatment and faith-based and other programs focused on the individuals. This is the sensible cost effective approach that should be used to produce results but then Mayor Steinberg and the Democrat cabal on the Sacramento City Council do not appear to be really concerned about actually solving Sacramento’s homeless issue?

  7. A quarter of a million per unit! I don’t get a clear idea of just what LifeSteps does in the way of ongoing support or its cost (assuming I’m looking at the right web site for them), but I have the impression they are more about getting people into housing and don’t have an emphasis on the kind of support needed to get them back on their own two feet. For those who are drug/alcohol addicted this basically equates to a more comfortable standard of living while they kill themselves — but it does get them off the street.

  8. Regarding Haven for Hope I have
    Personally discussed on a zoom call as well as trades emails with Sacramento council member Katie V. Using a similar idea. Katy Grimes nailed this problem. This doesn’t help the homeless, but what it does do is hold them down and help keep the downward spiral they are on. Who’s going to treat them. A local campus would work. And I also gave her the perfect area to put the campus. There’s hundreds of acres south of Highway 50 off Sunrise boulevard. Oh, and the response to the idea? Crickets!

  9. Plenty of very nice housing in Detroit- even with renovations will cost a quarter of what is proposed for Sacramento or anywhere else in California. Zillow Detroit and be prepared to be dazzled at housing costs and what you can get easily under these California rates for just 200 sq feet. Some really gorgeous multi-bedroom homes.

    This current scheme is patently ridiculous. Buy up stock in Detroit and send “Path” support services to Detroit, along with them.

    We don’t have a “homeless” problem – we have a misallocation of nationally available housing problem. Beggers can’t be choosers. Recycle, reuse and repurpose – everyone wins and one quarter the cost. Plus good hard winters toughen the soul and forces people to make better decisions in their lives.

  10. I’m sure when the state employees return to the Cal/EPA building, and the people who rented space in the near-by hotel-to-office conversion and the local Goodyear will be overjoyed to have that hotel/shelter/boondoggle open up.

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