California Forum

The Conversation Tent city

Tents fill an authorized lot in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle. Sacramento officials toured city-sanctioned homeless camps in Seattle as they consider allowing similar facilities in Sacramento.
Tents fill an authorized lot in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle. Sacramento officials toured city-sanctioned homeless camps in Seattle as they consider allowing similar facilities in Sacramento. lsterling@sacbee.com

In last Sunday’s Conversation, The Bee’s editorial board suggested that the city of Sacramento create a short-term pilot program for a few dozen homeless adults to live in an organized encampment with access to amenities (“Tent city is worth a try for homeless”; Editorials, March 13). We asked readers: Should Sacramento create a “safe ground” tent city for the area’s homeless people and, if so, where?

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Tent city for homeless, why not?

Why not give a tent city a shot? It certainly cannot be worse than having to keep track of and shut down campsites along the river and elsewhere.

Think of the manpower that would save. It would be safer for the homeless, and perhaps give them a little sense of dignity and humanity in a world that seems so uncaring and even hostile. It might turn many of them around if they have a place to go to the bathroom and take a shower once in awhile.

Think of how demoralizing it would be if we didn’t have those commonplace things in our own lives. If the tent city is set up with rules that are enforced, neighborhoods should not feel threatened by having a tent city near them. Give it a chance; it might just work.

Barbara Erickson,

Sacramento

Get real about who are homeless

It’s not often that the naïveté of an editorial makes me laugh out loud, but the stipulation that the proposed tent cities would prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs did just that. Why not a requirement that the mentally ill stay on their meds?

Just make a reasonable guess as to what proportion of the chronically homeless are homeless for exactly those reasons. How exactly does the editorial staff suggest that someone enforce such requirements?

Michael Meadows,

Rancho Cordova

Megan S. Martinez – I am all for a trial. I would be interested to see the overall outcome in Sacramento. Maybe we should start a local tent donation. I know that I’ve got a complete three-man tent in the garage not being used.

Don Bunce – There’s a big difference between the homeless and bums. The homeless would be willing to try a camp that forbids alcohol and drugs for a chance to get back on their feet. The bums will either try to sneak the stuff in or cause more problems than they already do. Unfortunately, the homeless advocates in Sacramento want government to pander to the bums as well as the homeless, which is where the problems come in.

Gloria Braithwaite Shamblin – It’s interesting that the neighborhoods mentioned are in the poorer parts of the city. Is there a good reason the homeless can’t be housed in one of the more upscale areas? Maybe there would be more sympathy for the homeless, if the more affluent citizens saw it up close.

Nicholas Santiago – Living up in Eugene, Ore., I’ve personally seen homeless camps in action for the last for years, and to be perfectly honest it hasn’t changed my life one bit but it has greatly improved the lot of homeless people up here in this extremely cold and wet place. As long as sanitation is properly maintained it really isn’t that big of a sacrifice for a community to make.

Bee’s online comments

Richard Jenks – So what is going to become of the homeless mentally ill, alcoholics and drug addicts since they definitely won’t be in these tent cities?

Doug Regelin – The answer is to make them as uncomfortable as possible, not the other way around. If the word gets out that Sacramento is accommodating, the problem will become much worse much quicker.

Trevor Allen – This idea has merit, but only if coupled with strong and timely enforcement of a camping ban along the American River. The carrot and stick. Land Park has plenty of open space and it’s a safe place. A section of the park could be cordoned off for a few hundred homeless campers. This housing burden should not be placed upon the disenfranchised communities or those of color.

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