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A new south Sacramento homeless shelter? Residents ask councilman pointed questions

About 100 Sacramento residents attended a community meeting Tuesday, many to voice concerns that a proposed homeless shelter at the Florin light rail station could increase crime or decrease property values, while some supported the idea.

Councilman Jay Schenirer is proposing the city open a 100-bed temporary homeless shelter on the northwest corner of a parking lot at the Florin light rail station for at least two years. Sacramento Regional Transit owns the south Sacramento lot where the proposed Sprung structure would go. Sprung structures are semi-permanent tent-like facilities that can be erected in a matter of weeks.

As soon as Schenirer opened the meeting Tuesday in Burbank High School’s cafeteria and asked if everyone was in the right place, a woman responded “we’re in the right place, are you?”

Several others laughed or agreed.

“I’m confident I’m in the right place and doing the right thing,” Schenirer replied.

The meeting went on for more than 90 minutes while Schenirer answered questions one by one in front of an attentive audience.

“I didn’t run for council so I could stand in front of a group and say, ‘I wanna put a homeless shelter in your area,’ ” Schenirer said. “That’s not why anyone runs. But we have a crisis we need to solve and we need to solve it as a community.”

Lizbeth Delgadillo raised concerns that the shelter could negatively affect Southgate Mobile Estates, the mobile home park directly to the east of the site.

“How will you protect the vulnerable people at mobile home parks?” Delgadillo asked.

Many of the residents in the park are disabled, and have been victims of thefts, she said.

Jose Nolasco echoed the concern about crime increasing, saying he lives across the street from the site and has had his car broken into twice.

“It sounds good on paper, but it’s not going to work,” Nolasco said.

Crime did not increase in North Sacramento after the Railroad Drive shelter opened more than a year ago, Schenirer said. Police would also increase patrols in the area if the shelter opens, he said. Crews would regularly pick up trash in front of the shelter as well as along Florin Road, Schenirer said.

Several residents suggested the city instead open shelters in industrial areas, like its 100-bed Railroad Drive shelter.

“Warehouses in industrial areas are impossible to locate at this point, primarily because of the cannabis industry,” Schenirer said.

Some residents came to the meeting to support the shelter.

Linda Fergurson, who lives near the proposed site in Bowling Green Meadows, said she passes about three homeless people on her short walk from her home to the Florin station every day.

“It’s heart-wrenching to see people sleeping on a cold sidewalk,” Fergurson said. “We need to do something to help the homeless.”

Rachel Iskow also said she supports the shelter and would also support one in Curtis Park, where she lives.

“I’m really proud our district is going to be the one, after North Sacramento, to stand up and provide even temporary housing,” Iskow said.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg last month asked all eight council members to find sites for homeless shelters in their districts as the city aims to get several thousand people off the streets.

Richard Wake of South Land Park said he supports the shelter, but also said one should be in every district. He suggested a shelter open at the old Sleep Train Arena site in North Natomas — a suggestion that received applause.

By the end of the meeting, Schenirer received applause, too.

The RT board, on which Schenirer sits, could vote next month to allow the shelter to open. The shelter would also require a City Council vote. If approved, Schenirer wants the shelter to open in time for winter 2020, and stay open year-round through winter 2021, he said.

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