Mayor Steinberg fields questions at contentious meeting on homeless shelters
Just over a week after approving a controversial winter homeless shelter in North Sacramento, city officials surprised residents Wednesday by announcing they had agreed to move the 200-bed shelter to a different location in the same neighborhood.
Representatives of Volunteers of America and Councilman Allen Warren’s office told the Woodlake Neighborhood Association and other neighborhood leaders that the shelter’s address was being moved to 2040 Railroad Drive, a warehouse on the same street as the location approved by the City Council during a contentious Oct. 24 meeting. A lease agreement for the new site was finalized Wednesday.
Neighborhood residents said they were caught off guard by the move, which was communicated in an email to neighborhood leaders and later at a neighborhood association meeting. They said the switch has further eroded trust in city officials after the neighborhood first learned of plans to place a homeless shelter at 1900 Railroad Drive in a Sacramento Bee article.
The City Council does not expect to vote again on the shelter. The lease agreement for the new location is under $100,000, meaning the city manager’s office can approve the address change without council approval. The council previously approved a contract with Volunteers of America to operate the shelter this winter.
The 1900 Railroad Drive warehouse is in escrow to be purchased and will no longer be available for the city to open a shelter next month, according to Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office.
“I want to thank Councilman Warren for informing the community about the change in site for the Winter Triage facility,” Steinberg said in an emailed statement. “The changed location meets the mission to get people out of the cold and is farther from any neighborhood than the original site. This is a crucial step to reducing homelessness in North Sacramento and our entire city.”
Larry Glover-Meade, president of the Woodlake Neighborhood Association, said residents were “really confused” by the switch because he said they were told the original site was the only available warehouse option for a shelter in the area. He said residents are also concerned that the council does not plan to vote on the change and criticized the city for not telling the neighborhood sooner about the move.
“The mayor has promised transparency and communication and yet no one bothered to communicate this with us,” he said.
There is a pending permit application to open a marijuana cultivation business in the warehouse where the shelter is expected to open in December. The shelter is scheduled to operate through March.