The Homeless

Why councilman thinks RT station is the best site for homeless in his district

Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer is proposing the city open a homeless shelter for about two years on the northwest corner of the parking lots near the Florin light rail station in south Sacramento, he said during Monday’s Sacramento Regional Transit board meeting.

It was the first time a council member has publicly discussed a potential shelter site since Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked all eight members to find sites in their districts for at least 100 beds nearly two months ago.

RT board members had mixed reactions, but agreed to allow staff to study the idea and consider it at a later date. RT owns the parking 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.

Sacramento County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, who chairs the board, said the site’s proximity to homes and to Burbank High School concern him, as well as the impacts it could have on RT’s reputation.

“I’m concerned with the perception of RT, the perception of RT riders, and potential riders, and the impact that this would have on a reputation that we are trying to bring up,” Kennedy said.

Rancho Cordova City Councilwoman Linda Budge and Citrus Heights Mayor Steve Miller agreed.

The Woodbine neighborhood abuts the site, and the Golf Course Terrace neighborhood is also nearby.

“We lost our community park due to homeless in the park,” said Gloria Lapp, who lives in Golf Course Terrace. “I understand you’re going to move those folks from there in to the shelter if it’s approved, but I will say the majority of the board of the Golf Course Terrace Estates Neighborhood Association does not want that tent there.”

Sacramento Councilmen Rick Jennings, Steve Hansen and Folsom Councilwoman Kerri Howell supported considering the proposal.

“There are many reasons we shouldn’t do this, but there are many more reasons we should,” Jennings said.

Fatemah Bradley-Martinez, who said she lives in the area, also spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I’m here to support any idea that the city has to bring people from outside in to a shelter,” Martinez said.

Schenirer said he has searched for years for shelter sites in his district, which includes Oak Park and Curtis Park, and they are very difficult to find.

“We are in a crisis situation,” Schenirer said. “We have an opportunity here.”

Schenirer said the city would pay rent to SacRT to use the site, and suggested the city purchase transit passes for all shelter residents.

“That would be another revenue producer and ridership producer for RT,” Schenirer said.

Shelter residents and crews would clean the area around the shelter, as they do at Railroad Drive, and could also clean a larger area along Florin Road, Schenirer said.

Schenirer is holding a community meeting to gather public input at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Burbank High School, which is about a half-mile from the site.

Schenirer said he hopes for the RT board could vote to approve the shelter as early as its next meeting, Feb. 25. A City Council vote would also be required.

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