The Homeless

City could soon get $7.7 million to help its growing homeless population

Potential sites for homeless shelters

The city of Sacramento is exploring potential sites to erect three 200-bed homeless shelters
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The city of Sacramento is exploring potential sites to erect three 200-bed homeless shelters

The Sacramento City Council will vote Thursday on whether to declare an emergency shelter crisis, potentially unlocking millions of dollars in state funding as the city struggles to find shelter for its more than 1,000 homeless people.

A state law, signed in June, gives Sacramento and 10 other California cities the option to declare a shelter crisis to gain access to a portion of $553 million in state funds.

If the council approves the declaration, the city would receive about $7.7 million. The city would use the money to fund at least one new 200-bed triage shelter, extend shelter hours, and provide other services, a city staff report said.

Sacramento County, which last month declared a shelter crisis, will receive about $12.7 million, which will also be administered by Sacramento Steps Forward. The money will be used for 40 additional beds at scattered-site shelters, a program in lieu of jail for homeless people charged with low-level misdemeanors, and other initiatives.

As part of the declaration, the city would pass an administrative order that says the city can only cite people for unlawful camping when a police officer confirms that a shelter bed is available, transports the person to the bed, and the person rejects the bed, the staff report said.

The declaration would state: “The number of people experiencing homelessness is significant, and these persons are without the ability to obtain shelter. The health and safety of unsheltered persons in the city is threatened by a lack of shelter during the upcoming winter months of December, January and February.”

That statement matches a federal court ruling from September that laid out guidelines for how cities must treat homeless people.

The declaration would last from Dec. 1 through March 1. Projects that use the money would need City Council approval individually, the staff report said. The order would also prohibit officers from citing people for unlawful storage of camping paraphernalia when there is no shelter bed available.

The open session of the meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at Sacramento City Hall.

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