The Sacramento City Council Wednesday voted unanimously in an emergency meeting to immediately open a warming center, a local pool house as needed, and two downtown city garages with bathrooms as safe places for homeless people, the Mayor’s office reported. But they did this after Tuesday’s massive storm with temperatures in the 30’s.
Tuesday’s storm brought unusually high winds and rain, which destroyed some homeless camps and blew away tents. Two people were found dead, though it’s not known whether their deaths were related to the storm.
This brought about a barrage of indignant Tweets from Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who is supposed to be leading the city, and anticipating problems like this.
Today at 3 pm we will hold an emergency meeting of the Sacramento City Council on the unacceptable situation of people exposed to the elements. We’ll open at least one warming center tonight and by declaring a local emergency we can offer shelter every night till winter’s end.
— @mayor_Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) January 27, 2021
Without sharing all of the responses to Steinberg’s Tweet, this one summed up most responses: “A great example of governmental crisis management. With Mayor Steinbergs stands on homelessness, did he really need to wait till winter to have his hissy fit?”
A great example of governmental crisis management. With Mayor Steinbergs stands on homelessness, did he really need to wait till winter to have his hissy fit?
— Howard Fox (@hf2101) January 28, 2021
Only the day before, Steinberg announced he would push to use $40 million of higher than expected sales tax revenue for affordable housing, and $6 million on youth… nothing about the thousands of homeless vagrants living on the streets who would not be able to pay the rent of affordable housing anyway.
The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing in Sacramento, and neither really cares. Steinberg instead focuses on expensive hotel renovations and building tiny homes for the drug-addicted homeless, who destroy these, and strip them of anything of value before being evicted.
Freshman Sacramento City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela Tweeted her grief and displeasure, and announced the emergency council meeting… AFTER the storm ravaged the homeless encampments and people died.
Just confirmed that one unhoused person died last night in my district.
I'm beyond grief-striken… I'm angry. We can and MUST do better for our neighbors.
— Katie Valenzuela (@katie4council) January 27, 2021
We knew for days the massive storm was coming.
These reactions are just that – reactions – by bureaucrats who use the homeless as leverage for more funding, and it appears this is working. Valenzuela Tweeted her wonderment that President Joe Biden’s executive order will reimburse local governments for the costs of sheltering homeless population.
President Biden's executive order will allow local governments to get 100% reimbursement for costs associated w/establishing non-congregate shelters for unhoused ppl.
This is an unprecedented opportunity to move people indoors as quickly as possible.https://t.co/4GOREE6Glz
— Katie Valenzuela (@katie4council) January 24, 2021
This is what local governments in California have been angling for — federal funds – which appear to be an endless supply. This is also more proof that the homeless vagrants living on the streets of California’s cities are political leverage, and not seen as damaged people who need help.
If the state’s homeless were a priority to politicians, they would be housed in unused arenas, empty public schools, on fairgrounds and warehouses, they would be triaged, and treatment started, with the ultimate goal of getting them off the streets and back into society as healthy, contributing members.
But the federal funds would dry up if the problem was solved. And that is the rub – state and local politicians can’t let any funding dry up, even if it is supposed to be used to help human beings.
Instead, local politicians post Tweets expressing their sadness at the deaths, and pretend to point fingers at other unnamed bureaucrats, blaming them for the failure.
Local reporters go to the homeless camps and stick microphones and news cameras in the faces of the vagrants, asking how they feel at that moment, also using them as props for the nightly news.
In “Unhoused Residents Died As A Storm Ravaged Sacramento And Officials Debated Homelessness Solutions,” Capitol Public Radio reported that Mayor Steinberg and Councilwoman Valenzuela knew the storm was coming:
“We knew this storm was going to be bad. We knew it for days, and we’ve seen the forecast that it was going to be an urgent and severe weather alert. We could have pivoted,” Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela said before breaking down into tears, upset that the city and county did not act in time to help the woman who died in her district.
She continued: “I’m finding myself a little overwhelmed, because it just… We knew people were going to die. We knew people were going to die. There’s just no way around it. I keep thinking about this woman who died … and I’m pissed. I’m pissed, she should not be dead.”
As the storm arrived in Sacramento during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Darrell Steinber expressed outrage over the slow-moving bureaucracy to move people out of the elements. “We can’t get a Goddamn warming center open for more than one night because the county has rules? I’m sick of it,” Steinberg said.
How about Golden One Arena which has been sitting empty for 10 months? How about the unused Sleep Train Arena? Or all of the empty city public schools? There are plenty of empty places to house the city’s homeless, and it could have been arranged through council districts.
This is an epic failure of leadership and compassion, but at least Sacramento residents now know how their elected politicians really feel about the homeless – they are pawns and leverage for funding, and that’s all they are.