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Not so fast on homeless tent city. Group serving vulnerable women stalls plans

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren talks to homeless camper about the possibility of a tent city

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren, whose north Sacramento district has many homeless campers, is pushing for the city to relax its ban on overnight camping.
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Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren, whose north Sacramento district has many homeless campers, is pushing for the city to relax its ban on overnight camping.

Sacramento officials thought they had a perfect spot for a homeless tent city until they learned Tuesday that an organization serving vulnerable women and children is nearby.

That stalled plans to create the tent village in a north Sacramento area park, the latest example of how difficult it is to locate a sanctioned homeless camp in any city neighborhood.

Councilman Allen Warren identified two acres near Johnston Park Community Center south of Strawberry Manor for a temporary tent city that could house up to 200 homeless people for 120 days. Warren planned to ask his fellow City Council members to let him move forward at Tuesday’s meeting.

But Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the city discovered late Tuesday afternoon there was “an anonymous organization that serves vulnerable women and children” nearby that might make the site unfeasible.

Neither the mayor nor Warren offered further details about the organization.

Warren said he would come back to council in two weeks with a revised plan - and perhaps a new site. His staff said Tuesday the proposed homeless village would include barracks-style tents housing up to eight people each, with a dog park, showers, kitchen and other communal areas.

The tent camp would cost about $285,000 for four months and would close at the end of that time, said Stephen Watters of First Step Communities, which would run daily operations.

Warren said much of that budget would come through donations. Steinberg said the city’s contribution would be limited to $100,000, which the city manager can authorize without a Council vote.

While Steinberg has been resistant to tent cities, even on a temporary basis, he tentatively supported Warren’s plan with conditions that include access for police and fire and adequate water supplies.

The rest of the City Council gave support, ranging from lukewarm from councilmen Jay Schenirer and Jeff Harris to enthusiastic from councilmembers Angelique Ashby and Rick Jennings.

Anita Chabria: 916-321-1049, @chabriaa

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