Sacramento Homeless Union – Fresh Off ‘Camp Resolution’ Victory – Pens Letter Countering ‘Rumors’ and ‘Misinformation,’ Blaming City of Sacramento

By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Sacramento Homeless Union, in a six-page letter addressed to members of the union Monday, seemingly sought to clear up “rumors and a lot of misinformation going around about the situation with Camp Resolution,” a designated “Safe Ground” area for about 50 unhoused, mostly women and disabled in Sacramento.

The union charged, “Much of this has come from the City of Sacramento which has posted false and misleading statements on the City Express website (and) certain outside organizations which, although some of them mean well, are nevertheless printing, posting online and coming into the Camp and telling people things that are untrue, misinformed or not in the best interests of the residents.”

The union wrote that “there have been City officials and members of the City Council who have come into the camp. Some support us and others do not. Some…are trying to divide us and foment distrust of your Union leaders.”

The union’s letter, signed by its legal counsel, Anthony Prince, and union President Crystal Sanchez, summed up the union’s position, noting that “we cannot tolerate any division, sabotage or interference. The Union will continue to fight like we have all along, but we can’t do it without your support, discipline, unity and solidarity. Only in this way can we win.”

The union, just last week, negotiated a new agreement that will allow the camp—which had already been given orders to vacate—to keep its lease with automatic renewals, the union noted in Monday’s letter, for “every 120 days until every resident is placed in individual, permanent durable housing.”

The City of Sacramento issued a notice of termination of the lease for Camp Resolution in late March to Safe Ground Sacramento—using the “excuse,” said the union, that a zoning variance expired.  The city said the Water Board wouldn’t renew the variance, but, in fact, the union said the board would renew it.

Last week, the city reversed itself, said the union, and “finally and officially rescinded the March 28, 2024 Notice of Lease Termination.”

The union wrote Monday, “We intend to hold the City to its own words because under the Lease, the residents of Camp Resolution have the right to remain at the site and the city has the obligation to keep the Camp open until every resident is placed in individual, permanent durable housing.

“We will never forget that from the day the City illegally terminated the Lease and ordered the residents to leave, to today, sixty-nine days later, residents experienced great anxiety and stress, with at least 12 suffering seizures and other medical emergencies.”

The union explained the city was wrong when it claimed the area was unsafe, noting, according to the Central Valley Water Board, “The proposed property use does not present a human health or safety risk.

“The Union is not going to let anyone use false scare tactics as an excuse to close Camp Resolution. And to the extent that anything buried in the ground could pose a problem in the future, it could be easily solved by paving over the dirt section of the Camp, something the City was supposed to do years ago.”

Prince and Sanchez also reiterated the union has sued the City of Sacramento “to stop them from closing the Camp until all residents are placed in individual permanent and durable housing,” rejecting a city proposal to build permanent housing on the site and “temporarily relocating” Camp Resolution residents.

“While we are open to any legitimate proposal that the City might have that will provide permanent housing, we will not have anything forced on us that violates the Lease. The City’s claim that the Union has refused to ‘come to the table’ is FALSE,” the union writes.

“Sharon Jones, Crystal Sanchez, (Safe Ground Sacramento Attorney) Mark Merin and I…went to City Hall and confronted the man who signed the Notice of Termination, Assistant City Manager Mario Lara. We told him that we were ready, willing and able to talk about anything and everything concerning Camp Resolution, but not under duress, not while the clock was ticking on the City’s threat to throw the residents into the streets with no place to go,” said Prince.

The attorney alleged the city “launched a phony public attack on the Union, claiming that we were not representing our members, that we were refusing to ‘come to the table.’ These tactics have failed. We stuck to our guns and we’ve shown everyone that the Union will never be bullied.

“You told us to file a lawsuit and we did (for breach of contract, among other claims).”

Prince promised, “We will meet with the City, but there will be no back room deals. Now that the City has withdrawn its threat to close the Camp, we have agreed to meet for comprehensive discussions on permanent housing and other issues.”

Prince, in the letter Monday, listed the union’s “priorities,” including making the city provide access to electricity and running water, paving the remainder of the site, providing “all the trailers” promised, provide motel rooms for the “most vulnerable camp members during excessive heat, repair trailers in the camp and “re-installing air conditioning, stoves, sanitary facilities and other original components that were previously removed.”

The union is also insisting the city “provide the same level of physical protection and safety to the residents of Camp Resolution that the City is required to provide to everyone who lives in Sacramento,” including “eviction and arrest of trespassers, violent criminals and unauthorized persons who have been preying on peaceful Camp Resolution residents.”

Prince noted, while the city has “intensified its public attacks on our Union, we have seen more and more support coming from the community including Sac State faculty and students, environmental activists, the churches, artists, genuine homeless advocates and even the media.”

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