By Crystal Sanchez
The mayor’s Right to Shelter Plan with enforcement is a slickly worded ordinance to force people into internment-style camps through fear and intimidation using criminalization. We denounced the comprehensive siting plan as it is a con job that will feed the Homeless industrial complex and not end homelessness.
The Department of community response was created as an intervention between law enforcement and the unhoused communities to create solutions. Unfortunately, the Department of Community Response and the City of Sacramento are creating more trauma, isolation, PTSD, criminalization to those who are unhoused than they are helping. There is no accountability or transparency when it comes to the safe ground or the motel situations that they are operating. Hundreds of people have gone through the safe ground and motels and twice as many have been kicked out from in and around with no resources. Those that are currently in the safe ground and motels are not being resourced. If you ask the Department of Community Response what a positive transition looks like they will tell you that they have moved them to a roof, another shelter (see the statistics published by the city). That is only a small fraction, the rest are not positive transactions. I sit in these meetings.
So we are recycling people through the shelters? We have sent multiple emails around abuse and violence prevention and have been ignored until we threaten to sue them. Again homelessness affects us all, the community, businesses unhoused, as well as the Union have blatantly been ignored which has perpetuated violence upon people through their resourcing as well as those seeking prevention. The Unsuccessful safe ground was set up as a TEMPORARY TRIAGE DUE TO CALTRANS CONSTRUCTION NOT AS A HOUSING MODEL…..IN FACT, THE CURRENT RESIDENTS IN THE SAFE GROUND ARE NOT EVEN FROM THE X STREET AREA THEY HAVE BEEN MOVED FROM STOCKTON BLVD. DUE TO SWEEPS! Remember the Mayor wanted sites in each area so the unhoused didn’t have to leave their area…..?
Angelique Ashby in 2018 said it best about the realities of success and shelters. Fox 40 news “councilwoman Ashby warned that the city look at itself honestly in this process. She said she feels the 34 housing placements reported out of 264 clients is inflated, others feel that 34 number is solid and shows great success.. the report goes on to state with a triage costing $400,000 a month Ashby said is unsustainable expressing concern for the general fund. It’s the same song & dance in 2021. Over a hundred million dollars is going to pop up safe grounds and what they are calling tiny homes. This is without any attached resourcing for the price. How is it one councilwoman (Ashby) actually created hotel housing with services without a dime of the hundred million but the entire council is relying on tents with no services in a parking lot? Also, can we talk about why they are currently charging $5,000 a person at the Meadowview and X st shelters for that we could be renting apartments and paying cash for services?
Are we really okay as a community to allow people to be forced into shelters and programs that are known to create trauma? Are We okay with only giving people two chances knowing they are being thrown out for no reason other than trying to survive? The Sacramento homeless Union has stacks of statements from people who have been kicked out and have not received resources from the safe ground and motels including a diabetic who they wouldn’t allow to put his medication in the fridge. Also, a person who was victimized in the safe ground. We also have statements from cbos, social workers, and others who know the realities of this false narrative of resources/shelter systems. There is no housing for these people to transition into therefore they will continue to recycle through the shelter system and then will be facing criminalization because the city is unaccountable for its failures to house and truly offer wraparound services.
If you look at the mayor’s ordinance primarily what they are offering is shelter outside in their tents and trailers. They’re dressing it up to look fancy like they are doing something besides spending money. Hundred million dollars for fences around tents? Criminalizing people who have nowhere to go and show up where the shelters/resources are?
We as a community can agree on one thing: this is extremely frustrating. We all deserve the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and our mayor and Council are not promoting realistic solutions. They are creating a bigger problem at the cost of our Public safety. The Sacramento Homeless Union is in the process of organizing our lawsuit filing against the City and the County of Sacramento for its failure to protect those who are on the street and the community as a whole.
Crystal Sanchez is Sacramento Homeless Union- President and National Union of the Homeless – Western Regional Director