The Homeless

Sacramento mayor wants to spend $36 million on the homeless. Here’s where it would come from.

Here’s what a Sprung structure looks like. They may be used for Sacramento homeless shelters

New Life Christian Center in Turlock decided to use Sprung to build a new facility when its congregation grew to 2,400 people.
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New Life Christian Center in Turlock decided to use Sprung to build a new facility when its congregation grew to 2,400 people.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is proposing the city spend $36 million on homeless shelters and services over the next two years, including $16 million in city money.

The $16 million would come from the city’s Measure U reserve fund. City officials set that money aside in case voters rejected the increased Measure U sales tax in November, Assistant City Manager Leyne Milstein previously told the Bee.

The city’s $16 million would join about $12 million in state funds and $8 million in private funds to total $36 million spent on homeless shelters and services. Steinberg hopes the council will approve the funding Feb. 5 as part of the midyear budget, he said during Tuesday’s Budget and Audit Committee meeting.

Steinberg last month asked all council members to find sites for homeless shelters in their districts so the city can open more shelters similar to its 100-bed triage shelter in north Sacramento on Railroad Drive. Councilman Jeff Harris is proposing a state-owned site on Cal Expo property, while Councilman Jay Schenirer is proposing a portion of a parking lot at the Florin light rail station owned by Sacramento Regional Transit.

“I want to assure that each of you have all the tools needed to be successful, most importantly, the resources available for one-time capital expenditures and ongoing operational funding to successfully site and open new shelters,” according to a memo Steinberg gave council members at Tuesday’s meeting.

The mayor wants to develop a two-year plan to shelter 2,400 homeless people per year, the memo read. People would stay in the shelters for an average of about four months while receiving services before finding more permanent housing, freeing up beds, Steinberg said.

Steinberg also proposed $8 million in Measure U reserves and leftover general fund money from the previous budget to be used “to show the neighborhoods the potential of their transformative decision last November,” the memo said.

Of the $8 million, Steinberg suggested spending about $2.1 on initiatives to serve youths in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

  • $350,000 for citywide pop-up events every Friday and Saturday nights for teens
  • $350,000 to help renovate the South Sacramento Cal Skate Facility
  • $350,000 to help nonprofit La Familia build an Economic Development Opportunity Center
  • $350,000 to help fund the Del Paso Heights Sports Complex, which will include three baseball fields and soccer fields to host local youth leagues and regional tournaments
  • $350,000 to build nonprofit capacity and help the city “be better connected to our many diverse neighborhoods”
  • $350,000 to build business capacity and help the city “be better connected to our diverse business community,” focusing on minority and women-owned business and urban commercial corridors
  • $5.9 million in to the upcoming fiscal year budget, going through the Measure U Community Advisory Committee process

Steinberg also proposed the council approve about $11.2 million proposed by City Manager Howard Chan for a list of items, including adding a bathroom to Cesar Chavez Park; $1 million for nonprofits that serve homeless women and children; improving 311 response times; bolstering code enforcement staffing and expanding illegal dumping services.

Steinberg is not proposing any new Measure U revenue, which the city will start to receive in June, pay for these items, the memo said.

Councilman Steve Hansen said he had concerns with the city spending $16 million on homelessness while the city faces escalating costs for public pensions and liabilities, as well as deferred city park and pool maintenance.

“Citywide there is $140 million in city park deferred maintenance, plus $20 million in pool deferred maintenance,” Hansen said. “We, through this action today, are making no progress toward any of those items.”

Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said when the city starts to receive the new Measure U money, the priority should be to spend it on core city services including parks, police, fire and animal services.

“As long as I feel the essential city services are going to be at the top of the priority list, I won’t have a problem supporting this,” Ashby said.

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