By Jose Medina
SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento Homeless Union has signaled it’s “fed up” with Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s gross neglect in solving the issues that affect the most vulnerable, and has given Steinberg until today—Wednesday—at 3 p.m. to resign or get recalled from office.
The Sacramento Homeless Union called for Steinberg—the former powerful President Pro-Tem of the CA Senate—to resign when at least four unhoused people died after the City refused to open shelters during a storm which ravaged the area last week. Winds hit 60 miles an hour with gusts much stronger, and more than 100,000 power customers lost electricity for days.
The homeless union put the blame on Steinberg, who the union said failed to use his position to open facilities or enact a plan that would keep Sacramento’s homeless community safe from the oncoming storm. Steinberg, the union said, makes promises he doesn’t keep.
In a letter calling for Steinberg’s resignation, the attorney for the Sacramento Homeless Union, Anthony D. Prince, explained that “the most recent dereliction of duty comes on the heels of a series of acts and omissions on the part of Mr. Steinberg that has brought great harm to our members and the homeless community at large.”
Prince added, “It is undisputed that Mr. Steinberg was forewarned of the approach of the storms which led either directly or indirectly to a number of fatalities, injuries and the complete destruction of tents and other property belonging to unhoused persons and vital to their ability to survive both the winter weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sacramento Homeless Union President Crystal Sanchez expressed her frustration toward Steinberg and his lack of motivation for helping the unhoused.
At a press conference Sunday, she reminded everyone in attendance that “last year over 100 unhoused persons died on the streets of Sacramento. We are fed up. The broader community is outraged. Sacramento is a failed state and we’re holding Steinberg accountable.”
Sanchez called out Steinberg’s empty words, charging “he lashed out at the City council that people would die Tuesday night but (yet) he did nothing.”
She further criticized Steinberg’s superficial advocacy by stating “he holds a high opinion of himself as wanting to be a champion of homelessness yet he does not listen to those who are most impacted, the unhoused.”
Steinberg’s inactions indicate that he is not adequately prioritizing the lives of Sacramento’s unhoused community, she said.
Sanchez vividly recalled the chaos members of the unhoused community experienced that stormy night, by saying “trees on top of tents were trapping people, tents were ripped to shreds, everything soaking wet, and people were wet to the bones.”
This was not the only instance in Steinberg’s mayoral career where he failed to meet the needs of the unhoused, said Sanchez, remembering that on “January 23, 2019, he had to apologize publicly as he ordered police to remove unhoused individuals from City Hall at 2 a.m. in extreme rains and 50 mph wind.”
Instead of providing solutions to relieve the plight of the unhoused, Steinberg has only made the lives of the unhoused even more difficult by policing them instead of providing actual aid, his critics note.
Sanchez called on Sacramento to be more compassionate toward the unhoused, stating that “it should not take death for us as a community to care about each other no matter what our housing situation looks like.”
Noting Steinberg’s current act of opening up warming shelters now, Sanchez somberly said, “He started working opening the warming centers but that doesn’t bring these people back.”
Sanchez provided a solution to proactively help the unhoused community by pleading to the city leadership to “open the empty vacant buildings; we need to get people under a roof and that’s just the first step…commandeer the hotels and bring in the wrap around services.”
“If Mr. Steinberg refuses to step down, we will move with all due haste to initiate the recall process,” warned attorney Prince.
Steinberg has made some powerful grassroots enemies over his four-plus years as mayor, including police brutality demonstrators, whose largely peaceful protests this past year were met by rubber bullets, flash grenades, pepper ball rounds and National Guard troops.
Jose graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and has interned for the California State Legislature. He is from Rocklin, CA.
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