Editorials

SacRT board’s decision will set tone for city. Let’s make progress on homelessness.

Here’s a look inside the North Sacramento homeless shelter

The first 50 of about 200 homeless people occupying a shelter on Railroad Drive in North Sacramento arrived Friday, Dec. 8. The shelter has sparked controversy among nearby residents and business owners.
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The first 50 of about 200 homeless people occupying a shelter on Railroad Drive in North Sacramento arrived Friday, Dec. 8. The shelter has sparked controversy among nearby residents and business owners.

The Sacramento Regional Transit board will tonight discuss whether a mostly empty lot near Florin Road can be used as temporary shelter for homeless people in south Sacramento.

The proposed shelter site would provide 100 beds and, in the words of Councilman Jay Schenirer, “make meaningful progress in addressing the most pressing challenge to who we are as a community.”

The proposed shelter is a critical part of Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s “8 x 100” plan, which asks each of Sacramento’s eight council districts to open a 100-bed shelter to address chronic homelessness. A similar shelter opened on Railroad Drive in North Sacramento last year.

At a community meeting at Luther Burbank High School in January, some residents voiced support for the shelter. Many also expressed concerns about whether a shelter might increase crime or lower property values.

The opening of the Railroad Drive shelter did not increase crime, Schenirer said. Providing safe and warm shelter for the south Sacramento’s most vulnerable residents seems better for property values than allowing 100 people to sleep in the streets.

This is, at its core, a conversation about community values. Steinberg has outlined a bold plan to reduce homelessness in our city. But that plan only works if we all share the work by providing shelters in every council district.

Fear and resistance are understandable responses to new ideas. And the only way we’re ever going to begin to address the homeless crisis in our communities is by facing it – and acting on solutions. If the shelter near Florin Road opens, police would increase patrols and crews would be assigned to pick up trash.

“It’s not a panacea for addressing homelessness by any means, but it’s the logical first step and a thoughtful, neighborhood-centric approach to taking care of the most vulnerable in our communities,” wrote Andy Hernandez, a North Sacramento resident who was skeptical when the Railroad Drive shelter opened. “It’s my hope that the council will adopt this plan and that the neighborhoods of this great city will come together and all be a part of this ambitious plan to address chronic homelessness.”

The SacRT board’s vote, slated for later this month, will set the tone for the rest of our city. We hope the conversation keeps moving in a positive direction and toward the opening of the shelter.

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