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. If the council approves the map, city staff could open large shelters, tiny homes and “Safe Ground” lots for car and tent camping on the sites anytime, as funding becomes available, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“The announcement comes two years after Steinberg issued a challenge to every council member to find sites for at least 100 shelter beds in each of their districts. As a result of that call, a large shelter opened in the Capitol Park Hotel downtown, which closed in October; a womens’ shelter opened in Meadowview, and a shelter is set to open under the W-X freeway this summer.”
Steinberg’s plan appears to be an attempt to approve projects without public input.
100 shelter beds in each district… for thousands of homeless drug addicts and mentally ill street vagrants.
Remember, the latest project to provide tiny apartments in a renovated old downtown hotel 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.
“Steinberg pulled the item from the council meeting agenda and said it would come back in ‘a few weeks.’ The ordinance highlighted the parcels in the hopes that private property owners would volunteer their sites, but did not offer city funding,'” the Bee reported.
“My epiphany was that it did not go far enough,” Steinberg said. “It suggested the traditional city way of doing things, which is to enable others to establish these Safe Grounds, but it didn’t proactively suggest that we are going to be full partners.”
Just as with the Sacramento County Supervisors threatening to fine residents $10,000 for violating public health lockdown orders, Steinberg is resorting to threats and forcing the issue on residents who fear the health, safety and crime issues homeless already bring to residential neighborhoods.
Curiously, Steinberg just published an op ed in the Los Angeles Times touting “Project Roomkey,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $100 million plan to move homeless into hotels and motels. “State and county negotiators teamed up to lease thousands of hotel rooms and turn them into temporary shelter,” Steinberg wrote.
Here’s the funding scam: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed local governments for 75% of the cost. The state paid 19%. Cities and counties were responsible for only 6%.”
Project Roomkey, a temporary program, appears to be a federal funding scheme – especially as it morphed into Project Homekey:
“Newsom last month announced an additional $62 million for Project Roomkey to keep people in hotels beyond its original Dec. 31 end date and to help fund rehousing services. With the program winding down, the state also launched Project Homekey, which combined $550 million in federal CARES Act stimulus funds with $50 million from the state general fund to create permanent supportive housing, largely in converted hotels. These funds have been awarded to 49 cities and counties all over the state and are being used to create more than 6,000 new housing units for the homeless population.”
The state’s homeless population clearly tops 200,000.
While Steinberg and Newsom have their eyes on more federal funding, neither ever addresses the overall goal which should be transitioning homeless to independence.
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?
Mayor Steinberg, do you even want homeless mentally ill drug addicts to change their behavior?
Tiny homes given to homeless in Los Angeles became tiny crack houses and the city had to evict and confiscate them.
Steinberg, who founded the Steinberg Institute to “advance brain health policy,” should know better, if his mission really is about mental health policy.
Steinberg says in his op ed: “This nation expanded access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. We need to think about housing and homelessness in the same way — as a national issue that local governments cannot address alone.”
Is Steinberg’s plan really about homelessness and mental illness, or just a federal funding money grab? And, if homelessness and mental illness is a national issue, why doesn’t every state have the extraordinary homeless issues California has?
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