SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Advocates rallied Tuesday against a November ballot measure that they said would demolish homeless camps and potentially criminalize the unhoused in Sacramento.
Four Sacramento organizations gathered in front of Mark E. Merin's law office to discuss the 2022 Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act, also known as Measure O.
"It’s so burdensome, so ridiculous, so abhorrent, that we decided – that is these organizations we represent decided- that it should not even be put before people for a vote,” Merin said.
This comes after the Sacramento City Council voted to adopt the ordinance on April 6, 2022, relating to the Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022. and then later called for the placement of the act on the general election ballot.
Organizations such as Area Congregations Together, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Organize Sacramento, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness and the Sacramento Homeless Union spoke out about how Measure O would demolish homeless encampments and either relocate the unhoused or criminalize and remove them if approved by voters. If passed, the measure could also require Sacramento to shelter at least 60% of the city’s homeless population within 60 days.
“At the end of the day, people are homeless for a lot of reasons," said Crystal Sanchez, President of the Sacramento Homeless Union. "This is a crisis, we are in a housing crisis. We need to stop stereotyping and discriminating against all that are unhoused is one thing, and we all need to come to this table and ask how we can make our community better and better together."
Although this measure is scheduled to be included in the general election November 2022 ballot, petitioners would rather the city of Sacramento pour money into creating real housing, developing jobs and training and providing services including mental health and drug rehabilitation.
“We expect to continue building a movement led by homeless and poor people in themselves, but involving the entire community because... everyone is at risk for becoming homeless,” said Anthony Prince, general legal counsel for the California Homeless Union.
Many showed up to voice their opinions, and Tuesday afternoon, even a few coalitions from the opposite side sent out a statement regarding the matter.
"Any efforts to silence the voice of the voters and maintain status quo conditions for the unhoused is a distraction from real change," said Amanda Blackwood, the President and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber.
Joshua Wood is with Sacramentan’s for Safe and Clean Streets and Parks, the coalition, backed by business, labor and community groups that worked with City Council to craft the measure.
“This is really a tactic to stop the measure from going on the ballot and the real reason is, it polls so high, they know it’s going to pass,” Wood said.
The coalition argues the measure will address the immediate safety concerns surrounding homelessness, while paving the way for long-term programs to solve the growing crisis.
“Our goal is to make sure that Sacramento is safe and clean and provides services and shelter to make sure that the homeless are served and in a better place,” Wood said.
Proponents of the measure have high confidence if it reaches the ballot in November that it will pass, but there remains a lot of moving parts. It’s still unclear if or how the measure will be impacted by this latest suit
WATCH MORE ON ABC10: Local businesses help The Modesto Love Center food pantry as demand increases