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Councilman visits encampment where homeless are pushing back

People living in the North Sacramento homeless encampment they've dubbed "Camp Resolution" are fighting efforts to oust them. Their councilmember paid a visit today.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It's a crisis averted, for now. That’s what residents of a homeless encampment are saying after the City of Sacramento canceled a so-called ‘sweep’ that was expected Wednesday.

On Tuesday, advocates pleaded with the city council at their meeting not to clear the encampment.

RELATED: Sacramento City Council hears pleas not to remove 'Camp Resolution'

It worked, but those who live in the encampment worry their displacement has only been delayed.

The dozens of people living at the encampment near the intersection of Colfax Street and Arden Way in North Sacramento call it "Camp Resolution." It’s an unsanctioned, unofficial community, which the city says constitutes trespassing - calling it an illegal occupation of city property.

However, it is located on one of the properties the City of Sacramento planned on turning into a homeless shelter site— one that never panned out.

“They just need to get it together and come together with a good plan— one that’s going to work,“ said Tammy Myler, who lives in Camp Resolution.

“We help each other all the way through,” said Desiree Pryor, another resident.

They say the people living here united their voices and successfully avoided a clearing of this encampment, but they know a sweep could come soon.

“There’s got to be compromise,” Pryor said.

“Right,” Myler agreed, “because we can’t go to the sidewalks no more because we can’t camp there.”

RELATED: Sacramento anti-camping ordinances take effect, residents unhappy with city actions

They want to stay at Camp Resolution— a site that was originally set to become a safe place for them.

“No follow-through on their end? To me, it’s negligence,” Pryor said.

In its 2021 Comprehensive Siting Plan to Address Homelessness, the City of Sacramento said it wanted to turn this exact site into a tiny home community to house up to 75 people. But an environmental study showed soil contamination at the site could hurt people camping on the ground there, so they changed the plan to just allow people living in their vehicles.

Once councilmembers learned the site would only accommodate 30 to 50 vehicles, depending on size, they decided to cut their losses and discontinue the investment, as Councilmember Sean Loloee explained.

“We just didn’t see that as a big move, considering how much space it is,” he said at the camp Wednesday, gesturing around the large lot. “So that’s why we had to kind of shut this— mark it off from this list and try to find other locations.”

Earlier this fall, however, dozens of people moved in, naming the space Camp Resolution. Now, they don’t want to leave, saying it’s a safe and supportive place, especially for the many women living here. And with several deaths of unhoused individuals in recent years due to exposure to the elements, they say, safety is more important than ever.

"Is it going to take somebody to die out here again for them to actually take a look and see what they're doing to us?” Myler asked.

Camp Resolution is in Councilmember Loloee’s district. He made a promise at Tuesday night’s council meeting to visit the camp the next day.

He told residents there the city is working on alternatives but made clear city leaders have moved on from developing this particular location.

"This is not going to be the site because of the danger that we've been told about,” he said. “But does that mean that we're going to just sit back and say, 'Well, we tried our best and we failed and oh well'? No, we're dealing with human beings, so we have to find a solution."

The city says they’ve offered services to campers here multiple times, including spaces at the Miller Park Safe Ground and Safe Parking and the Auburn Boulevard Outreach and Engagement Center.

Still, many people living here don’t want to go.

The city has changed its plan since introducing the Comprehensive Siting Plan of 2021.

Back in April, city staff basically told councilmembers why some of the original sites in that comprehensive plan were what they call “infeasible.”

Instead, they chose to focus efforts on a work plan consisting of eight specific sites— some of which were in that comprehensive siting plan but others that had been identified since that first plan was published.

That work plan includes the Miller Park Safe Parking and Safe Ground site, the Auburn Boulevard Outreach and Engagement Center and the North Fifth Street Shelter— all of which are now operational or expanded. Projects in-progress include Joshua's House and the Job Corps Site.

Across Sacramento County, more than 9,000 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night, according to the 2022 Point in Time Count.

RELATED: Sacramento County's homeless population nearly doubled between 2019 and 2022, report finds

The city of Sacramento currently has 1,150 emergency shelter and respite spaces, so more work is needed to combat the homelessness crisis.

RELATED: 'Do better': Newsom pauses $1B in homelessness spending


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