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Sacramento homeless union calls for mayor to resign after deadly storm

The Sacramento Homeless Union says four people died during Tuesday’s storm and blames Mayor Steinberg for inaction before the storm hit.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — There was little to do as thrashing wind and rain tore through "Brie's" tent in an encampment off W and 24th streets in Midtown on Tuesday night.

"I laid under the blanket screaming, calling for one of my friends to come help me," said the unhoused woman, who wanted to be referred to only as "Brie."

Brie said that ,if a shelter had been open, she would have gone. Instead, Brie hid under a wet blanket, thinking about her dog and her friends. One of her friends, who slept in a tent a couple of streets away, didn't make it through the night.

"They say she froze to death, I guess" Brie said. 

In the aftermath of the deadly storm, Mayor Darrell Steinberg is facing calls to resign from advocates of the unhoused.

The Sacramento County Coroner has not yet detailed the cause of death for those who died outdoors that night, but advocates at the Sacramento Homeless Union said they believe as many as four people died during the storm. 

Advocates said Mayor Darrell Steinberg bears responsibility not only as mayor but as the Chair of the state's Homelessness Task Force.

"We knew the storm was coming. The Office of Emergency Management let people know the storm was coming with winds of 60 miles an hour. He did not use his authority as mayor to protect the 11,000 people on the streets of Sacramento," said Crystal Sanchez, President of the Sacramento Homeless Union during a Wednesday press conference.

Though the mayor made an impassioned plea during the storm to cut through red tape to get people indoors, Sanchez said he did nothing that night.

"We are fed up with cleaning up his messes due to his failures. He has been all talk and no action. It is time for him to go," she said. 

Sanchez called on the mayor to resign within 72 hours or face recall efforts.

In addition to launching a recall effort, the group said it is filing a complaint with the state Attorney General and is looking to launch an investigation into the city's sweeps of encampments during the California's public health emergency.

Despite the criticism, Steinberg defended his record.

"I've done more than any public official in Sacramento history to address the issue of people experiencing homelessness. I will continue my fight to get people indoors through whatever means necessary," he said in a statement to ABC10. 

In an emergency meeting Wednesday, Steinberg and council members voted unanimously to open the Library Galleria as a warming center. The city also opened the Southside Park pool house and is allowing people who live in their cars to safely park overnight at the City Hall parking garage. It is also expanding its motel voucher programs.

The Sacramento Homeless Union said much more can be done and that their group has called for more resources in the past several years.

"I think we need to open the buildings. We have a lot of vacant open buildings. We need to get people inside," Sanchez said.

Meanwhile, Brie, said she can only hope city leaders do better to help people like her, as she figures out how to get back on her feet. 

"My situation is only temporary because I strive to do better," she said.


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