Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Homeless Tent City/Shelter

In this article from the Sacramento Bee, questions arise as to where Sacramento can place its “permanent” homeless tent city/shelter.

Some ask for it to be near the American River Parkway, which would be disastrous; continuing the habitat destruction, pollution, and related crime that has resulted from the long-term illegal camping in the Parkway.

Some have suggested—and it does sound more reasonable—that it be placed at Mather, which already has a homeless housing complex; and addressing the complaints that it would be too far from the homeless services, perhaps the service providers should also consider relocating there, as it would probably reduce their costs considerably and allow for the congregated array of the homeless and homeless services being advocated for by same.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Organizers of Sacramento's first "nomadic" winter shelter program declared it a success Tuesday and began soliciting donations and volunteers for next year.

“Until then?

“Many of those who slept and ate in churches during cold winter months will retreat to the outdoors, joining scattered tent communities, stirring complaints and trying to dodge citations from police and park rangers.

“Despite more than a year of protests, appeals and negotiations, the effort to establish a legal place for homeless people to sleep in Sacramento remains mired in controversy.

“The nonprofit group known as SafeGround Sacramento continues to talk with city leaders about establishing a homeless community that includes common areas with basic services, said Executive Director Steve Watters. But where that community might be is an open question.

"We need to find a place that is safe and politically acceptable," said Watters. "That's the reality of the process, and it's not easy. But I do feel we've got some really earnest work going on."

“Most of the first six locations presented to a study group led by Assistant City Manager Cassandra Jennings have been rejected for safety or other reasons, he said. New sites are being considered.

“Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday that he remains committed to establishing a SafeGround community in Sacramento and is frustrated that hasn't happened. But council members appear wary of advocating for a project that likely would draw the ire of their constituents if it landed in their backyards.

“Watters has been meeting individually with council members, he said, and next week will take part in a workshop with Jennings' group.

“Seven to nine potential SafeGround sites will be on the table, he said. But the council will have the final vote on any such project, and most members of the panel so far have been circumspect.

“Councilman Jay Schenirer said he would back a SafeGround community in his district, which covers Curtis Park, Oak Park and a dozen other neighborhoods, if the project included services and programs designed to help lift people out of homelessness.

"I have told SafeGround, 'Look in my district,' " Schenirer said. "If we find a piece of property that meets the criteria, I would be more than willing to work with the neighborhood to make it happen."

“Watters declined to release a list of potential sites for the project but said that at least one is in Schenirer's district.

“SafeGround envisions a community that would serve 40 to 80 people in small cabins. It would be governed from within and prohibit drugs, alcohol and violence.

“Once a site is established, organizers estimate it would take 18 months to launch the community. Until then, they want the city to temporarily provide a piece of land near the American River parkway where people can sleep without police interference.”