Friday, April 29, 2011

Safe Ground

As reported by Sacramento Press, it would appear that the safe ground concept is slowly losing credibility with local public leadership.

An excerpt.

“Should a group of homeless people be allowed to camp together in Sacramento without outside monitoring?

Safe Ground Sacramento, a group of mostly homeless people, says it should have the right to be “self-governing” and to operate an overnight camp independently.

“But a few Sacramento City Council members said they disagreed with that idea Tuesday.

“The City Council held a workshop on the safe ground issue as part of its weekly meeting. Over the past two years, Safe Ground Sacramento has asked the city to dedicate land for a site where the homeless could camp legally overnight. The city has an ordinance that bans overnight camping.

“One of the group’s key principles is that its members are “self-governing” and that operations are led by elected members, according to a presentation by Safe Ground Sacramento Executive Director Stephen Watters.

“The group is a community of people with “common needs,” Watters said.

“People watch out for each other and provide mutual support,” he told the City Council. “The community spirit that develops has turned people’s lives around.”

“The Safe Ground Sacramento group asks its members to be drug- and alcohol-free and to not engage in violence. Members of the group camp overnight together, despite the camping ban.

“But Councilman Rob Fong disagreed with the self-governance principle.

“I am not comfortable with a self-governing population,” Fong said. “I know that everyone I’ve talked to suggests that there needs to be a programmatic aspect to transitioning people out of homelessness.”

“Homeless people need to be matched up with social services to help them find permanent housing, Fong said.”