Safe Ground in Sacramento

Now back on the political radar, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, the most comprehensive solution is the homeless transformation campus model being successfully utilized in San Antonio, Texas which we wrote about in a recent Press Release.

An excerpt from our Press Release.

A primary question many ask when discussing removing the homeless illegally camping in the Parkway is, “Where will they go?”

Our position has long been that our concern is with the devastation illegal camping has been causing to the Parkway, rather than determining the fate of the homeless when and if they are ever fully removed from the Parkway.

However, like everyone else, we suffer when thinking about the misery and destitution that is part of the fabric of living without a home; and over the past several weeks have developed a possible strategy, based on our practice of examining working models in use somewhere else, that will answer the question of where will they go.

Sacramento County could consider creating a homeless transformation campus capable of handling the majority of homeless in the County based on the model of Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas which is the largest and most comprehensive homeless transformation campus in the United States, providing residence to approximately 1,600 individuals on any given night.

The Haven for Hope campus is composed of fifteen buildings on 37 acres with almost five hundred thousand square feet of service space under roof.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

Homeless service providers and advocates urged a Sacramento City Council subcommittee Monday to give the model of sanctioned homeless camps serious thought as the city grapples with how best to address its homeless population.

Nearly 200 people attended the committee meeting and applauded often when the concept of tent cities was mentioned.

The three-member City Council panel was joined by other high-ranking city officials last week in Seattle, which has granted permits for three sanctioned homeless tent cities. Two of those camps are operational, and a third is under construction.

The facilities connect residents with on-site social services and access to organizations for low-income housing. City officials want the facilities to serve as springboards into permanent housing, although it’s too early to tell whether that’s happening in Seattle.

Councilman Jay Schenirer, the chair of the subcommittee, said he expects the panel will bring a set of recommendations on tackling the city’s homeless issue to the full City Council in mid-April. That could include a proposal to allow tent cities.

Councilman Jeff Harris, a subcommittee member, said he “didn’t have high expectations going to Seattle.” He said the trip changed his outlook.

“It provided stability, it provided safety,” he said of the tent city model.

Emily Halcon, the city of Sacramento’s homeless services coordinator, said the Seattle camps are serving the least vulnerable of the homeless population. Residents must abide by a code of conduct, drug and alcohol use is prohibited, and registered sex offenders are not allowed to stay there.

Halcon said a “key component” of the Seattle camps was the system of self-governance. Camp residents elect leaders, screen new campers and conduct security on site and in the surrounding neighborhood.

The model has been under consideration in Sacramento for years but has never had considerable political support. City officials have been unable to identify a site – or sites – for a camp that would generate neighborhood support.

Stephen Watters, executive director of First Step Communities, which is advocating for a village of tiny homes for the homeless, provided some insight into where a sanctioned camp could be. He told the committee his group is reviewing sites in three City Council districts: District 2 in North Sacramento; District 5, which covers Oak Park, Curtis Park, Hollywood Park and other neighborhoods south of downtown; and District 8 in Meadowview

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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