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'Doing nothing is not an alternative' | Sacramento mayor unveils master plan to address homelessness

The $100 million plan includes 20 new sites for shelters, six motel conversions and one large campus.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg unveiled his $100 million plan to tackle the homeless crisis on Wednesday.

It includes 20 new sites for shelters, six motel conversions and one large campus. 

"Doing nothing is not an alternative. It's not an alternative," Steinberg said.

That's why council members came up with 20 different sites across the city that have room for either "Safe Ground" with organized camping, safe parking, tiny homes or emergency shelter.

Sebastion Wolf, who has been staying at a Safe Ground camping area near W and 6th for a few months, calls the area his 'safe haven.'

"I'm used to getting ticketed every morning, and now I don't have to," Wolf said, noting that he never had the money to pay those tickets in the first place.

The model is one that Steinberg wants to expand in his master plan to address homelessness.

RELATED: 4 things to know about Sacramento's Homeless Master Plan

He's also working to convert six motels into housing and, long term, he's working with the county to develop one large campus meant to serve as a one-stop shop.

He said his plan has the ability to serve 9,820 people every year. 

"We have an opportunity to show, not that we can cure the problem, because nobody's promising a cure, but that we can make it better, that we can show people a tangible and visible difference," he said.

Joseph Smith, advocacy director for Loaves and Fishes, said this plan is an effective first step forward.

"To have that safe space to call home where you can leave your stuff and not having to worry about it getting thrown away or stolen, just to have that security, it's been a long time coming for everybody, and this is a great first step, I think, to offering folks a little security," Smith said.

But the plan for now is short term. People can only live at these sites for six months.

"That's going to be a really critical deal, having a place for folks to transition to from these temporary sites," Smith said.

Critics argue that the plan does not include any permanent affordable housing options.

"You're not going to solve homelessness by creating essentially homeless concentration camps. How's that going to solve it?" said Anthony Prince, lead organizer and general council for the California Homeless Union.

Both the California Homeless Union and the Sacramento Homeless Union said they worry this is simply a band-aid on a much bigger issue.

"Is this plan going to resolve the housing affordability crisis? No," Prince said. "Plus, the plan calls for only rotating that 9,600 number, rotating it every six months. That doesn't solve homelessness. It simply creates a waystation for these developers to make money, these contractors to make money and then out the homeless go."

City council will bring this to a vote next Tuesday, August 10th. A yes vote would approve all 20 sites and the entire plan at once. 

RELATED: Sacramento's pilot 'Safe Ground' program aims to help homeless get back on their feet

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