Could be, as this article in the Sacramento Bee—and his recent actions indicated—our new Sacramento Mayor may be assuming that long needed role, especially if he remembers that he is mayor of all of the city of Sacramento.
Facing increasing pressure as the number of homeless people surges, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked Sacramento County leaders Tuesday for $53 million to provide services for that population.
Steinberg wants to pool the county’s mental health funds – which stem from a state millionaire tax he authored as a legislator – with federal grants obtained by the city to spend a combined $117 million in three years to reduce homelessness.
“Let’s merge our resources and literally get thousands of people off the streets,” he told the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The most recent homeless count released in July found 3,665 people living without permanent shelter in Sacramento County and 2,000 of those people living outside. The total number of homeless was the highest number the county has ever recorded.
Steinberg needs the county’s financial and service help for the federal Whole Person Care grant the city has received. He sees the federal money as crucial to getting people off the street and into a more permanent housing situation. Under the grant, the city will receive $32 million from the federal government that matches $32 million in local funds.
Preparing for the winter, the city recently proposed opening about 300 beds on Railroad Drive off Del Paso Boulevard in North Sacramento. The city eventually wants to build a permanent shelter with 200 beds on the former Lumberjack site adjacent to the Royal Oaks light-rail station.
Steinberg’s request Tuesday spurred a discussion of complicated funding possibilities and concluded with supervisors asking staff to return next month with options. A majority of supervisors indicated they are willing to support at least some of Steinberg’s proposal.
Under the city’s proposal, federal money would fund case management and other services to keep the homeless and those at risk of homelessness out of emergency rooms and in appropriate services – mental health care and substance abuse treatment, both of which would be provided by the county.
To meet those objectives, Steinberg recommends that the city reallocate funding the county expects to receive from the Mental Health Services Act, the law he co-authored as a state legislator and voters approved in 2004. Under the law, the state collects a 1 percent tax on millionaires and distributes revenues to counties to provide mental health care.