Any plan that could get 700 people off the streets in Sacramento should get special attention.
That’s what Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren says his shelter proposal involving tents, cabins, tiny homes and single-family homes will do, per Sacramento Bee reporter Theresa Clift.
The North Sacramento plan demonstrates the creative thinking we need to lift residents out of homelessness, and is worth prioritizing as the council determines what homelessness solutions should get funding.
The proposal was one of five from council members that the council discussed last week. Other plans included converting a motel into a shelter, establishing a safe place where people who live in their cars can park and sleep, and moving people into rentals leased by a homeless services provider.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Authority Executive Director La Shelle Dozier presented the ideas together as a larger “Five Point Proposal.”
The conversation was constructive following controversy over approval in August of a shelter for women and children in Meadowview. Councilman Larry Carr, who represents the neighborhood, and Ashby opposed it.
No one presented a viable alternative at the time. Mayor Darrell Steinberg first asked councilmembers to propose shelters in their districts in December.
For discussions to stay productive, councilmembers need to continue to look forward. There’s no time to relitigate plans council has approved.
Ashby tried to do that during the Sept. 24 meeting, when she proposed replacing the Meadowview shelter with a shelter scattered across multiple locations in Natomas. She said the approach could accommodate families with men as well as women escaping domestic violence
“I can fit it well within the budget that you all have allocated to District 8, if you would walk away from that shelter” in Meadowview, she said, “and instead put those families in my district.”
She motioned to “take Meadowview out for now” while she prepares to bring her full proposal forward. Her motion failed.
If council discussions devolve into stalling an approved shelter to explore still-developing alternative ideas, we’re in trouble.
Think about the precedent city council would set by approving one solution, working toward opening it, then halting that process after a month to talk about a new idea. That’s lost time at best, and at worst the council would be opening the door to halt approved shelters in the future.
No solution will be perfect. City officials need to viable ideas and they need to move on them.
Leaders must also be judicious with what proposals get significant time and attention.
Warren’s proposal deserves a deeper look. We need this type of bold thinking if we’re going to solve Sacramento’s spiraling homelessness crisis and get people housed – for good.