SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The City of Sacramento has dedicated time, resources and millions of dollars to work on solutions towards fixing the homeless issue in Sacramento.
As the homeless population continues to grow, Councilmembers Jeff Harris and Rick Jennings proposed ideas for a tent city and safe parking, respectively, at the city council meeting Tuesday to help fix the problem as quickly as possible because current solutions may not be up and running for a while.
The city decided in January that there would be a new, sprung shelter in each of the seven districts. This would provide around 100 beds per shelter and could possibly serve a total of 1,400 people annually.
The only problem is that it could take at least a year to get the proposed shelters up and running, according to Harris.
After presenting the Safe Ground Program and the Safe Parking Program, Tim Swanson, a spokesperson for the city manager's office, said that city staff has begun looking into Harris' and Jennings' proposed programs.
Safe Ground Program
Harris suggested that the city create a temporary safe space for people to live in tents and have resources to work towards more permanent housing.
Harris wanted to stress that this could be a temporary option while the city continues work on the sprung tent shelters that have already been approved.
"There would definitely be an end date," Harris said.
Harris said that this idea comes from the success that Modesto is seeing with the safe ground program they have been running since February under a bridge.
Harris said he took staff to the site and learned that the people staying in the tent city felt safer, and that the City was able to manage the trash. He also said that the City was able to get a better handle on drug use among the homeless.
ABC10 reporter Lena Howland was told by the City of Modesto that in two months around 10% of people that had stayed at the tent city in Modesto had transitioned on to more stable housing.
Harris said the results that Modesto has been seeing are things that he hopes a similar program could bring to Sacramento's homeless population.
Safe Parking Program
Jennings suggested that the city create a program where people living in their cars have a safe place to park and have people available to help them work toward living in a permanent home.
Dennis Rogers, Jenning's chief of staff, said that the number of people living in their car increased by 62% in the last two years.
Rogers said that this program would hopefully allow for people to have access to a restroom, shower, food and resources.
"It is not a solution; it's a point in time in their journey to self-sufficiency," Rogers said.
In addition, this could help them get a better nights rest by allowing them a safe space to lay their head for the night. Rogers said that they would probably have someone there overnight to ensure the safety of the people staying in the parking program.
Rogers said that the program proposal was inspired by the similar programs at San Diego and San Jose. Rogers said that the San Diego program had 2,650 people, families and individuals utilize the program with 65% of people transitioning to stable housing within 90 days.