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City council passes ordinance on emergency shelter space | Update

The Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022 was proposed in front of the city council Wednesday during a special meeting.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento City Council voted on an ordinance to address the homeless crisis by creating emergency shelter space and to enforce illegal camping laws.

The Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022 was proposed to the city council Wednesday during a special meeting.

According to a city council report, the ordinance is a direct follow up to a February announcement from residents wanting to place an item on the November 2022 general election ballot addressing homelessness.

Officials said that ballot initiative would have been so expensive that the city would have had to cut services if it passed. Daniel Conway, policy advisor for the LA Alliance for Human Rights, was behind the ballot measure effort, which would have compelled the city to make around 7,500 shelter spaces to the tune of around $200 million.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the city was in a tough spot as it negotiated a compromise. But the city says the compromise addresses emergency shelter needs and also protects the budget. 

However, homeless advocate Bob Erlenbusch said the compromise is the not right answer.

"It’s not housing. It’s not tiny homes. It’s not anything other than creating about 800 to 1,000 tents on a dirt lot somewhere," he said.

The compromise was ultimately passed 7 to 2.

The Proposed Initiative

According to the city council report, here are the main takeaways from the proposed initiative announced by residents:

  • The proposed initiative compels the city to identify and authorize emergency shelter space to 75% of unsheltered individuals in the City within 60 days of voter approval. 
  • Under the proposed initiative, until the City meets that objective, the City could not enforce against persons illegally camping in the City.
  • After the threshold is met, enforcement action can be taken if the City Manager has determined there is an available space, the illegally camping person has been offered a space, and that person has rejected that offer.
  • The proposal also prohibits “encampments.”

To read more about the proposed initiative, click HERE.

"The stark reality is that there is no scenario in which the City will be successful in providing the emergency shelter compelled by this proposal without decimating core programs and services," the city report reads. "To attempt to achieve the objectives included in the proposed initiative could financially destabilize the City, requiring program and service level reductions far beyond to those undertaken as a result of the Great Recession."

Alternate Ordinance

During Wednesday's special meeting, an alternate ordinance is being proposed to the city council.

The ordinance is broken down into three sections. Here is a brief breakdown:

  • Within 90 days of voter approval, the City Manager will identify and authorize at least the number of new emergency shelter spaces that equals 20% of the minimum threshold of 60% of the PIT count. 
  • Specifies that unlawful camping may not be enforced against a person on public property unless and until the city manager has authorized the requisite number of emergency shelter spaces, determined that an emergency shelter space for the person is currently available, offered the person an emergency shelter space, and the person has rejected the City’s offer.
  • Directs the City Manager to fund the commitments, obligations, and liabilities created by this ordinance first from external sources. Should those resources be insufficient, the City Manager shall annually allocate up to 50% of unobligated General Fund year-end resources, as identified in the city’s budget, not to exceed $5 million.

To read more about the proposed ordinance, click HERE.

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