Homelessness & the American River Parkway

Sacramento is a compassionate city, and virtually all of us care about and want to help, those struggling with the behavioral issues that often lead to homelessness-drug and alcohol addiction, financial duress, mental health, criminality and others-but generally not to the extent that our personal, familial, or neighborhood safety is seriously threatened.

For our organization, the issue isn’t homelessness, but the impact of illegal camping in and around the Parkway, largely by the homeless, on the adjacent neighborhoods and users of the Parkway.

The impact on the adjacent neighborhoods is that they have not been able to safely access their part of the Parkway for the several years this has been a problem, and that is the issue that resonates with our organization, public safety in the Parkway.

As a consequence, of course, we have had to address the larger issue of homelessness in general, which we have done in articles and news releases posted to our website and blogsite.

Through prolonged examination of the issue, we have reached a couple of conclusions: one is our support for the Housing First concept for the chronic homeless.

The chronic homeless are those who have been homeless for some time and scarcely able to mount any sort of social renewal without, at the very least, a place to call home.

This concept was pioneered by the organization Pathways to Housing in New York and they have had success with it.

Sacramento has also embraced this concept, but in a way that we feel will have less success, which we wrote about in an article published in the Sacramento Bee on April 10, 2008 under the title of Scatter homeless housing; don’t concentrate sites, and which is also posted to our website’s news page on May 12, 2008.

The other is a call for a more vigorous policy of helping the homeless and providing for public safety in the Lower Reach of the Parkway—Discovery Park to Cal-Expo—outlined in our 2005 research report: The American River Parkway Lower Reach Area: A Corroded Crown Jewel, Restoring the Luster.

Over the past couple of years, the concept of providing a tent city for the homeless, has arisen and as the area in and around the Lower Reach has been the tent city, in fact if not legally, for several years, it is also an issue we are concerned about.

We posted a photo gallery on January 18, 2011, of pictures taken January 17, 2011-showing a large tent city which has been erected-and others dating back to 2008, of the impact of illegal camping in and around the Parkway, and the Sacramento Press published a story with photographs from January 20, 2011.

Sacramento can do better, for the homeless, for the Parkway adjacent neighborhoods and for Parkway users.

This article was also published by the Sacramento Press.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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