Sacramento scraps plan for large homeless shelter, moves funding to other sites

A large homeless shelter proposed for Cal Expo property off Ethan Way in north Sacramento is officially off the table – for now.

The Cal Expo Board of Directors was set to vote on the shelter at its meeting Friday. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg sent a letter to the board Thursday telling them the city is no longer pursuing the site and is instead shifting resources to sites that can open sooner.

“I am disappointed we were ultimately unable to create a partnership to address this humanitarian and economic crisis,” the letter read. “The problem of homelessness is not going away and the number of people on the streets continue to rise. I remain hopeful that CalExpo will at some point choose to be part of the solution.”

Councilman Jeff Harris, who represents the area, first proposed opening a 100-bed shelter with services there in January, but the idea never received Cal Expo approval. The state agency raised concerns that the site, at the southeast end of Ethan Way, is next to the Cal Expo RV Park.

Since then, the council has approved about $31 million in state and city money to open large shelters at the Capitol Park Hotel downtown, under the W/X freeway, and in Meadowview.

The city directed resources to those shelters because they can open sooner, the letter said. Capitol Park is open now, and the Meadowivew shelter for women and children is expected to open this winter.

The council is scheduled to discuss several other homeless initiatives at its Oct. 22 meeting. At that meeting, members could consider a proposal from Councilwoman Angelique Ashby to provide at least 100 beds for families in Natomas; a proposal in Councilman Allen Warren’s north Sacramento district, along with safe parking zones, a hotel conversion and a tent city model.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.