The Homeless

Sacramento to spend nearly $16M in city money on homelessness. What will it be spent on?

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.

The city of Sacramento will spend nearly $16 million in city money toward addressing the homeless crisis, the City Council decided Tuesday.

The council plans to decide how to spend the money during a meeting Feb. 12.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg has proposed spending the money to open multiple triage homeless shelters, he has said previously.

Councilman Larry Carr questioned whether shelters are the best solution.

“I don’t want us to get focused on one technical solution,” Carr said. “We should stay focused on the goal of getting people off the street.”

The $15.7 million in city funding would be combined with about $12 million in state funds and $8 million in private funds for a total of about $36 million toward homeless initiatives. The city funding 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, Steinberg said.

“This is a horrific public health, public safety and humanitarian crisis and it is incumbent upon us to bring to scale what we have already proven to be successful,” Steinberg said Tuesday.

In December, Steinberg 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. That shelter provides medical and mental health care for guests, as well as help removing the barriers they face in finding permanent housing, such as obtaining state identification cards.

Councilman Jay Schenirer is proposing a portion of a parking lot at the Florin light rail station owned by Sacramento Regional Transit, while Councilman Jeff Harris is proposing a state-owned site at Cal Expo.

Carr hopes the council receives data from city staff on how successful the Railroad Drive shelter has been at the Feb. 12 meeting, he said.

“We’ve spent a lot of money. Was that well spent?” Carr asked.

The council also approved spending about $2.1 million in city money on the following initiatives to serve youths in disadvantaged neighborhoods this month:

$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

The city will also spend $11.2 million on a list of projects proposed by City Manager Howard Chan, including improving 311 response times, bolstering code enforcement staffing and expanding illegal dumping services. The approved list also includes $360,000 for a public restroom in Cesar Chavez Plaza; $1 million for nonprofits that serve homeless women and children; $500,000 on a program that provides legal aid for immigrants; $1.8 million to increase mowing at city parks and make improvements; and $326,078 to hire staff to release police videos and documents.

The city will also transfer about $5.9 million to the upcoming fiscal year budget. Steinberg proposed that money be used for equity projects in the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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