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Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. (Photo: city youtube screen capture)

Sacramento Mayor Steinberg’s Plan to Stop NIMBYs From Blocking Homeless Shelters

Steinberg’s plan appears to be an attempt to approve public projects without public input

By Katy Grimes, December 8, 2020 8:59 am

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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6 thoughts on “Sacramento Mayor Steinberg’s Plan to Stop NIMBYs From Blocking Homeless Shelters

  1. Steinberg is part of the new gang of thieves to “fundamentally change America” one city at a time! So why not go all in for the city that is the State Capitol of California. If he truly cared about that segment of society he would be working to get them the rehabilitation and mental health they need and working to reconnect with their families.
    The need for property to build tent cities will morph into someday seizing private property to “house” the homeless. After all those who worked to provide for their families can start over!????

  2. You are right on the spot. Throwing away hard earned tax dollars on these vagarants /bums are such a huge drain on our society. It is taking away money from all the other need and worthy causes. Who will be paying for the upkeep and maintance on these “tiny houses” which is just putting money into select contractors who are probably giving hefty money back to certain individuals who do the contract approval. it is a scam and should never be allowed. My daughter says just give them all the free drugs that they want and move them out to the desert.

  3. 550 million here, 65 million there….what a nice chunk of change for those who do nothing to positively contribute to society. We not only put a roof over their heads, we also offer daily needle exchange programs and cash for drugs. Why would they want to better themselves? We are just enabling not helping them. Lets go put some tents up in Steinberg’s neighborhood, shit on the streets, litter, throw some needles around, shopping carts and cardboard boxes and tell him this is the area I choose for his master plan. Great article Katy, your last sentence says it all. Anybody know his address and I’ll go pitch a tent with a nice fire pit.

  4. Why doesn’t Steinberg claim the old ARCO arena and the Sacramento convention center for the homeless. Lot’s of room for cots, mothy blankets and piss mattresses.

  5. In Placer County they are buying homes for the homeless, not just average homes but nice homes some with swimming pools. Phil Cowan had the story last week on his radio show. We need to open up state hospitals again for the mentally ill homeless. The others need to be sent to drug rehab or half way type housing. These people need help. The Union Gospel Mission has it right.

  6. Your bias is really nauseating & misleading. Drug addicts don’t need beds? Amazing. You can keep spinning disinformation platitudes about the houseless, sadly that’s your choice. We’ll keep telling truth & helping our neighbors get thier needs met how we can. Shame on your snobbery. Your ignorance is just the kind that perpetuates drug addiction & homelessness. Consider educating yourself by listening to the victims of this trash you promote before you publish anything else you don’t know about.

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