SACRAMENTO, Calif — Update: July 26
Sacramento City council members voted to turn the Powerhouse Science Center into a 24-hour respite center for the homeless.
Posting signs and picketing are some of the few options neighbors say they have to protest Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg’s resolution to offer 24/7 homeless services at the old Powerhouse Science Center on Auburn Boulevard.
“It’s a city project, but it’s surrounded by unincorporated county. We really have no voice or any vote in this," said Julette Porro, who joined several dozen protestors Monday evening outside the site.
A nearly 24-hour homeless respite and resource center is up for a vote Tuesday at Sacramento's City Council meeting, as Mayor Steinberg says more solutions are needed to address the area's homeless crisis.
The unhoused population more than doubled in the past two years in the county, according to the most recent Point in Time count.
Protestors, however, point out that five schools are within a mile radius on its website, rallyforkids.org. It’s next to a playground and just several feet away is the Children’s Receiving Home, which serves at-risk youth. They say they fear for kids’ safety.
“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when one of these children is going to be placed in a compromising position," said John Hearne.
The site has been operating as a cooling center during heat advisories, a scaled-down version of what was originally proposed. Last month, Mayor Steinberg announced he’d push for around-the-clock services.
"How can we let a city asset that is not being utilized, where we have put $3.3 million by the way, towards its use. How can we not use that to put people indoors and navigate their way out of homelessness," he told ABC10 in June.
In a statement from the Children’s Receiving Home, CEO Glynis Butler-Stone said the organization has not experienced adverse impacts from the cooling center and has a neutral stance on the updated proposal after discussing “good-neighbor policies” with the city.
“While we understand and appreciate the need to provide shelter and services to the unhoused population, our first responsibility must be to protect our kids,” Butler-Stone said.
The non-profit will monitor developments closely and reserves its right to oppose the plan if shelter operations negatively impact its campus.
Butler-Stone adds, "the City and its Department of Community Response have agreed to formally assess operations of the center every three months by looking at law enforcement data, usage and guest data for the center, and input from CRH."
Meanwhile, City staff reports indicate the respite center would not offer walk-up services and bars guests or sex offenders from the premises.
Appointments for referrals will run from 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. The center would be open for up to 50 invited clients from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly.
To read the full statement from Children's Receiving Home, view the PDF below.