Homeless Union Calls Sacramento District Attorney ‘Fraud, Unprincipled, Dishonest’ after DA Charges City Should Close Camp Resolution Site for Unhoused

Possessions of a homeless person on Capital Mall Drive in Sacramento on Saturday, September 11, 2021.(Photo by Robert J Hansen)

By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO, CA – Court battles notwithstanding, the war of words among the city of Sacramento, the Sacramento Homeless Union and the Sacramento District Attorney heated up again this week with DA Thien Ho accusing the city of criminal acts for allowing the unhoused to live on what Ho calls a “toxic” site in North Sacramento, known as “Camp Resolution.”

The city denied this, and the homeless union Wednesday called Ho “unprincipled, dishonest and politically-driven,” and his concern for the homeless “a fraud.”

Camp Resolution is a 2.3 acre site the city has leased to the nonprofit Safe Ground group rent-free.

The Homeless Union called its statement a response to “Ho’s Lies About Camp Resolution and Threats of ‘Criminal Liability,’” and said the DA is “peddling with his sensationalist, distorted and insincere ‘concerns’ about hazards…only to advance his political career.”

“What we don’t need is the unprincipled, dishonest and politically-driven interference of this district attorney. His phony concern for the homeless is a fraud and he is a disgrace to the office that he holds,” charged Anthony D. Prince, Lead Organizer/General Counsel of the California Homeless Union and Attorney for Sacramento Homeless Union

Ho, in a letter to the city, said officials may face “criminal liability” for allowing unhoused citizens to live at Camp Resolution, calling the site “dangerous and deplorable to house the unsheltered on a toxic dumpsite where people are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. To do so is not only inhumane but raises questions regarding criminal liability.”

Ho has been, since earlier tis year, attempting to convince the city to arrest the unhoused, even, as Prince has said, encouraging the city to violate a federal court order.

That move by Ho has led him to be investigated by the State Bar for wrongdoing.

Prince said he’s received confirmation the State Bar is continuing its probe of Ho, after the union’s complaint charged Ho with “using a threat of criminal prosecution to force the City of Sacramento to violate a federal injunction to cease clearing homeless encampments during this summer’s extreme heat.”

“Apparently not happy that he remains under investigation by the California State Bar for violations of professional conduct, (Ho) is now targeting Union leaders as well as homeless advocates “Safe Ground Sacramento” and the City of Sacramento for allegedly maintaining a public nuisance at Camp Resolution,” wrote Prince Wednesday.

“Once again, Sacramento District Attorney Thien Ho is playing a deadly game of politics and deception with his threat to prosecute the City of Sacramento criminally, homeless advocate Safe Ground Sacramento and, possibly, officers of the Sacramento Homeless Union,” added Prince.

The homeless union charged, “Thien Ho’s 9-page letter of November 14, 2023 is replete with distortions and false statements, including, for example, that Camp residents are being exposed to trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachlorethene (PCE),” which the union said is false.

Prince points to a January letter to the city where the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s “laboratory ‘did not detect TCE and PCE in outdoor air samples,’” and the “the false assertion that there are Camp residents in tents on soil that is contaminated with benzene, a byproduct of gasoline exhaust emissions,’” noting the same letter “reported that ‘the presence of benzene in ambient air is consistent with statewide conditions unrelated to subsurface soil vapor.’”

Prince added, “Ho’s letter completely ignores the fact that the majority of Camp Resolution residents are in trailers that they either own or were supplied by the City that sit four feet off the ground and which fully comply with the requirements set forth by the Water Board as they do not ‘enclose the area under the vehicles in a manner that prevents or limits air flow between the ground and the bottom of the vehicle or trailer.’” 

The union’s lawyer said “there is no doubt that…Ho’s letter is a tissue of distortions, false statements, out-of-context quotes and inflammatory language,” calling the missive the “height of hypocrisy for this District Attorney to feign false concern for the well-being of the unhoused when… in the middle of triple-digit temperatures, he was insisting—at the threat of criminally prosecuting the City—that 16 homeless encampments located in the shade be immediately removed.”

The union, at that time, called Ho’s conduct into extreme question, noting Ho’s “less than truthful public pronouncements in service of your public campaign against the unhoused by way of your demands on the City, raise substantial questions as to your honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” 

Prince wrote Wednesday, “Camp Resolution was formed by homeless women fed up with being pushed from one street corner to the next, facing brutal winters, deadly summers, sexual assault, vigilante violence and sweeps that robbed them of the few possessions they needed to survive. These are the dangers that the homeless face every day, dangers that took the lives of some 200 unhoused Sacramentans last year. 

“Where has Thien Ho been all this time? Where was this official who one day rails against ‘homeless criminals,’ the next day becoming the ‘champion’ of the unhoused, playing all sides and every side so long as it advances his political career.”

Ho demands the city and the Safe Ground Sacramento nonprofit “abate this ‘public nuisance,’ and relocate the unhoused at Camp Resolution to a safe place, one that is not contaminated by cancerous causing agents.”

But longtime friend of the unhoused, civil rights attorney Mark Merin, called the letter “a political stunt.”

“It’s a diatribe from somebody who has no solutions,” Merin said to the Sacramento Bee. “He just wants to point to a problem of which everyone is aware. We have people living and dying on the streets. We’d appreciate it if he’d offer some solutions.”

Like Prince, Merin also disputed Ho’s characterization of the site as a toxic dump, stating, in The Bee, “There have been different studies, and one of the studies found the level of benzene is no different than what’s found throughout the state.”

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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