Tent City Idea Over?

One hopes so as it is a terrible idea, but as this article from the Sacramento Bee reports, it actually may be dead, at least for now.

An excerpt.

As the rivers keep rising, more and more homeless men and women move out of the woods and on to city streets. Sacramento’s homeless crisis is as severe as ever.

A group of advocates pushing for a permitted homeless “safe ground” continue their campaign. But it sounds like they don’t have any friends left at City Hall.

Attorney Mark Merin, Safe Ground Sacramento and the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento quietly submitted an application with the city of Sacramento in October to establish a tent city for homeless campers near the Sacramento Army Depot off Florin Perkins Road. They sought to establish the camp on city-owned property set amid a district of warehouses.

City Manager John Shirey denied Merin’s request in a letter dated Nov. 18, Shirey’s final day in office. He wrote that sanctioned homeless camps “do not align with the city of Sacramento’s commitment to coordinated outreach, assessment, and permanent housing solutions managed under Sacramento Steps Forward,” which is the county’s primary homeless services coordinator.

Merin said his group has several other sites in mind, but settled on the Army Depot land because it is far from homes and close to job training centers. But it’s also close to Power Inn Road, where the city is trying to grow new businesses and jobs.

“The spot isn’t the problem – we just can’t get permission,” Merin said in an interview. “There are a lot of things that could be done if there were political will.”

That’s always been the issue with the safe-ground movement – it’s been as much about politics as it has sheltering the city’s most vulnerable population.

There was a moment when Merin appeared to have support on the City Council for his plan, after he helped organize a trip for top Sacramento officials last year to Seattle for a tour of that city’s sanctioned tent cities. But the support faded in the months that followed as the City Council was convinced by service providers to instead focus on other solutions, including permanent housing aligned with services and increased indoor shelter hours.

Eric Guerra, the councilman who represents the Army Depot area and one of those who took the trip to Seattle, had expressed an open mind to a tent city during the visit to the Pacific Northwest. He kept that open mind last fall, when he and Merin toured the plot of land out by the Army Depot.

But it sounds like Guerra has made up his mind now.

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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