Pushing the Poorest
Updated: Feb 3
On January 26, Interim Director of the City’s Office of Community Response Bridget Dean gave a presentation to City Council during a special meeting. Clearly set up for success, she is a one-woman team tasked with creating a new model that shifts the way the City of Sacramento responds to a myriad of issues and homelessness is one of them.
One of the primary ways the city tracks our unhoused neighbors is through 311. On the 311 mobile app, there are fourteen types of services to request. One of them is Homeless Camp.
Let’s keep it real. If the City prioritized housing and valued human lives, there wouldn’t be a need for this type of service request. Let’s not forget that our City Council used their legislative powers to ban anyone from sitting and sleeping outside City Hall. What is abundantly clear from the multiple 311 service options is that the City doesn’t want to know or doesn’t care to know about the issues renters are facing. FAIL! Although, the majority of the city are renters, who could really run this town differently, but that’s for another story.
On January 7, a third-party vendor contracted with the City of Sacramento, Forensiclean, was dispatched to “clean up” or rather destroy and sweep the shelter structure on Alhambra Boulevard near W Street. For more than one year, the structure housed dozens of our neighbors, who have been pushed out of neighborhoods such as Oak Park. The director of Forensiclean admits they’re helping displace our unhoused neighbors. According to news media, “McGuire said in many ways they work for the homeless, helping them move their belongings from one location to another.” Real twisted if you ask us!
Prior to this event there was outreach to the unhoused residents and they were offered with a few days of motel stay. From the perspective of our unhoused, the offer to have three days in a motel means losing most if not all of their survival gear, access to critical services such as food and medical care, being disconnected from safe persons in their community, and at times facing separation from a partner and/or an animal. That is A LOT to lose for three days. While some may not understand, it IS the perspective of a majority of our unhoused community.
The presentation of agenda item 4 closed with SacPD Officer Justin explaining that their displacement process is generally three weeks long and they start by asking unhoused residents to move. He gave a full admission for the public stating SacPD has a THREE WEEK displacement process! Officer Justin stated that the majority of the time they move after being asked. SHAME! He then showed video footage of the Forensiclean employees talking to unhoused residents and an officer attempting to find out more information about an incident in which one of the Forensiclean employees brandished a knife at activists documenting the sweep.
The close out of the agenda included a handful of public comments and we want to lift you all up for taking the time to amplify our unhoused residents’ lived experiences and keeping our elected officials accountable. A public comment from Dr. Flojaune Cofer worth reflecting on noted that there continues to be a one-sided narrative being pushed at the City Council meetings (SacPD cough, cough!).
Despite many of our elected officials having experience working in the legislature where it is protocol to present both sides of an issue - pros and cons - yet they are failing to provide this process for the public. Following public comment, there were several city council members who made some absurd statements, and brown-nosed the police department while justifying a one-person staffed Office of Community Response (since Bridgette helped him move an unhoused person living at his non-profit).
The most absurd comment came from Councilmember Sean Lololee,
“Grab a group from the homeless community and if you think three days is not enough, nicely go and get them a room for a whole month. Nobody’s going to stop you.”