“Too many people who have been housed and fragile are becoming fragile and unhoused.” ~Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
“This is becoming a ‘go-to’ city,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg Wednesday at the end of his press conference on Sacramento’s growing homeless problem.
Steinberg held a press conference to share the new “Point-In-Time” count of the city’s homeless population, conducted over two nights in January, which has grown 19 percent, according to the report. Steinberg acknowledged that the official count is up to over 5,500. Instead of acknowledging that this is a growing problem, Steinberg focused on a category in the report of “unsheltered chronic homelessness” which went down by 7 percent in Sacramento. “That represents positive progress and is not occurring in most cities throughout California,” Steinberg said.
“People don’t want to remain homeless,” the Mayor said. “We need to offer them the right kind of shelter.” And then he again said “We have a housing crisis because of an affordability crisis.”
“Too many people who have been housed and fragile are becoming fragile and unhoused,” Mayor Steinberg said.
Steinberg said he and the Sacramento City Council have allocated $100 million out of the Measure U funding for the homeless. But originally Steinberg said that $100 million would be spent to build affordable housing.
Steinberg complained that some neighborhoods are complaining about the homeless, and then say “Don’t put the shelters in our neighborhood.” He singled out the neighborhood of Land Park, which is adjacent to downtown Sacramento just to the South. This is my neighborhood.
Steinberg spoke of the “homeless” without addressing their open lawlessness, drug dealing, theft, people masturbating in public, shooting up heroin in the open, soliciting drugs and prostitution in public, and defecating and urinating on streets in front of local businesses. It’s not a pretty picture. According to Mayor Steinberg, “it’s a housing crisis.”
Steinberg also said 93 percent of the homeless are from Sacramento, but that statistic is manipulated as they count anyone who has been on Sacramento streets for one year as a “local.”
The motive for the Point-in-time homeless counts appears to be federal funding. Point-in-time homeless counts are mandated every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and impact the federal funds going to the state and counties. The media claims “the results have strong influence on local spending and policy decisions.” I’ve spoken to local police assigned to deal with homeless populations who say the counts are inaccurate at best because there is no way to really count the homeless. They say (as do others involved) that cities and counties do not want to eradicate homelessness… because the federal funding would dry up.
Ironically, the city just closed a triage shelter for the vagrants living on the streets. Mayor Steinberg is putting his hopes on the Capitol Park Hotel which was used for decades as housing for low-income disabled adults. The city is kicking them out, and renovating the hotel for $23 million. Steinberg says it will have 180 beds for homeless by August.
As one neighbor said in response to Steinberg’s press conference, “these are the drug addicts and mentally ill who refuse the city services. To call them ‘homeless’ is an insult to those that are truly down on their luck. They are ‘vagrants, ‘criminals,’ ‘druggies,’ and ‘junkies’ who have chosen this lifestyle.”
The Homeless Industrial Complex
Fresh from the State Legislature, in 2016, as Sacramento’s new Mayor, former State Senator Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), announced his plans for making homelessness in Sacramento his priority, through more spending. Gov. Newsom recently announced the formation of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force and its co-chairs Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, “two city leaders from cities ravaged by homelessness, filth, and disease.”
Most Sacramento residents are sympathetic to those who are down on their luck and need a hand. However, what one local neighborhood group has found in helping those on the street, the truly “homeless” actually accept help and avail themselves of the available city and county services. The druggies, vagrants and transients, do not.
“What we see in Land Park, roaming through our neighborhood during the day and in the late hours of the night, are scary individuals feeling car door handles for unlocked cars, sleeping in our carports and leaving trash and liquor bottles and other drug paraphernalia, stealing anything not locked down on the porch, peeking in our windows,” one neighbor wrote to Mayor Steinberg in an email. “These are the drug addicts and mentally ill who refuse the city services. They have diminished our quality of life in this great city and charming neighborhood, and now you are inviting more to come – and trying to shame us for not welcoming them with open arms. They may stay in the shelter, they may choose not to. Now, there will be more of them to go through our cars, pass out in our yards, take items off of our porches, whatever they can do to feed their addictions.”
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