Updated: Jan 20
Welp, it’s opposite day down at city council again. This time they’ve confused a right and an obligation.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg has authored an ordinance he’s ironically named the “Right To Housing.” It would be more accurate to call it an Anti-Camping ordinance.
The Poor People’s Campaign organized housed and unhoused neighbors in front of city hall to protest.
The Sacramento Homeless Union released a statement against the Mayor's plan.
Darrell reported 11,000 people are struggling with homelessness in the Sacramento city/county. In his ordinance he cites Martin v. Boise, a ruling the protects people in need of shelter from harassment by the city/police, as a cause for an increase in encampments.
It goes on to create a vague punishment of “you don’t have a home...but you have to get out of here” to people who refuse housing that the city doesn't have. Confused yet? Yeah me too. Mayor Steinberg says he knows it looks like an anti camping law, but it’s really not because...well...he wrote it...and he’s done good things in the past which proves he wouldn’t write an anti-camping law now. However he does admit he’s very anti-camping. He goes on to praise the flooded safe ground, and the dilapidated prison-like project roomkey accommodations.
Steinberg did make it very clear that this is not up for vote, or ready to move along in the ordinance process. This is just a starting point for the discussion…..of further criminalizing homelessness. That he hopes he can get praise for the whole state adopting.
Public Comment Public comment was lit. And for once everyone agreed this is a terrible idea, but people felt this was for very different reasons. One caller shared their personal experience with city housing services as a youth and adult. They said it's very clear that permanent housing is not an option, and to them this ordinance is clearly coercion. They even suggested Darrell spend some time educating himself on what consent looks like. The river district said they don’t trust the city or county due to 30 YEARS of broken promises. Both the midtown business association and the power in alliance called in to suggest stricter enforcement for people living outdoors. The rest of the community was for the route of not punishing people for not taking invisible housing opportunities.
Council member discussion: It gets crazier when all the other council members congratulate and praise Steinberg for his innovative way of making life harder on the homeless. Council member Shenirer mentioned that we housed 2700 people last year, but then another 3,000 became homeless. Councilmember Harris flat out said he doesn’t like this ordinance. For several reasons: 1. The county should already be at this table 2. It’ s financially impossible for the city to house 11,000 people
3. It opens the city up for a ton of unnecessary lawsuits
The more humanitarian of the council members seem to find some comfort in the cart following the horse. The logic being, well we don’t have to worry about enforcement until we have the housing, and we’re nowhere near that point.
Luckily enough, the praise came with some questions like.
Where the H E double hockey sticks would we get the money for this?
And what does enforcement mean and look like?
By the end of the discussion all the council members seemed super excited to continue working on this ordinance. Steinberg thanked the community for engaging in the conversation - while separating himself from the homeless and homeless advocates because he chooses to push people toward his view on health and safety in exchange for their “autonomy.”
To get involved in supporting our unhoused community contact:
Sacramento Homeless Union: http://sacramentohomelessunion.org/
Poor People’s Campaign: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find your council member here: https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Mayor-Council/Find-Your-District