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The Measure O saga continues...

Thank you to Sarah Rabanales, SJPC Community Outreach Coordinator, for creating this write-up!

(lawn sign from the 2022 No on O campaign pictured below)

I am here once again to report on the injustices that Sacramento City and County are patting themselves on the back for. On December 6th, both the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to approve a City/County partnership agreement to "address" the homelessness crisis.

Listen, the County and City agreeing to come together for a partnership to deal with the never ending homelessness crisis that Sacramento is facing is in fact something to applaud. Advocacy groups, community based organizations, people experiencing homelessness, etc. have all been pleading and fighting for an agreement to be made between these two entities. We NEED consistency and an understanding on each side in order to combat the homelessness crisis.

With that being said, this agreement sadly only came to fruition after the passing of the cruel and criminalizing Measure O - more on this measure can be found in this Sac Bee article. As explained in the article, Measure O can only go into effect if the City and County come to an agreement on how to deal with the homelessness crisis.

Well, this agreement (presented at both the City and County on December 6th), is quite frankly, a disappointment. The County had Ann Edwards, the County Executive, present the agreement. It commits the City and County to do what is, essentially, already their job. As presented, the agreement requires the City and County to provide more encampment outreach, behavioral health services, and sheltering. Although in theory all of this sounds promising, the reality is that this agreement falls short for so many different reasons.

One of the biggest reasons it's not enough is because it was created as a provision of Measure O, which is the City’s way of criminalizing unhoused people for being homeless, and because the services established through this agreement are just NOT ENOUGH.

According to the fiscal analysis done by the County, the services provided through this agreement will cost at least $5-10 million dollars (and this is not even including the money needed to fund the shelter promised in the agreement).

With the money expected to be allocated for this agreement, we could do so much more for the homelessness crisis than what is being proposed

So, why is this important for social justice?

Well, the reality is that this agreement once again discounts the voices of the real experts on the issue of the homelessness crisis. When we say “experts'', we don’t mean the people sitting in their nice offices at the City and County level completely detached from the realities of living without stable housing. Instead, we are talking about people with lived experiences, those who are currently homeless, and advocacy groups and community based organizations that work closely with unhoused people every single day.

This agreement will spend millions of dollars to provide a total of 400 beds in the next 3 years and potentially an additional 200 IF the City can provide the County with a ‘shovel-ready site’. This is potentially 600 TEMPORARY beds to deal with a crisis that leaves at least 9,000 people sleeping on the streets of Sacramento every night (according to the Point in Time Count, linked here.

I am not a mathematician or a statistician but, as the kids say, the math is not mathin'. How can we justify spending millions for not even 10% of the beds needed and only 10 outreach teams for the at least 9,000 people sleeping on the streets nightly?

I am not trying to be cynical, but there are much better ways to deal with the ongoing homelessness crisis in Sacramento. This agreement is not it. The City and County should be looking to work together with the real experts on this issue. They need to find ways to connect with the community, and brainstorm innovative and creative ideas because the solutions being presented are TIRED and overused.

Mack Wilson (they/them), Community Organizer from Decarcerate Sacramento, did a really great job of explaining why more innovative ideas are needed to solve the housing and homelessness crisis, and why leaving out the contributions of those with lived experience and those who work closely with unhoused folx will not produce meaningful results. Here’s a clip of their public comment made during the BOS meeting:

I think it is important to take into consideration the recommendations Mack is making and implement decision-making based on the contributions of those with lived experience who are suffering from homelessness now, of the advocacy groups who work with them.

It's also worth mentioning the fact that the agreement included services that the City & County are already (poorly) providing. In other words it didn't establish much in terms of new solutions. Of course any mention of bad decision-making and Measure O was quite triggering for the Supervisors (Desmond and Kennedy to be exact).

The reality is that decisions are not being made with the input of those who are the most affected

So, what can be done? What can our readers do?

At this point the vote taken place and the decision to pass a mediocre and tired agreement has been voted on unanimously by both the City and County. What we can continue doing is advocating for those who need our support. We need to continue holding our representatives accountable and demanding that they work with the community for community based solutions.

Below I have included some screenshots from the agreement presentation at the County, the City Council barely had any documentation to include.

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