Several wonderful citizens of Sacramento, including myself, advocate for the homeless every week at city council meetings. There are more than 13,000 homeless in Sacramento County. However, the number of homeless continues to grow along with rent prices (Sacramento rent prices are rising faster than any other city in the USA). Unfortunately, the elected members of city council have taken a completely backwards approach to solving the homeless crisis. The city council criminalizes the homeless with an inhumane and unconstitutional 'no camping ordinance.' The ordinance breaks several constitutional rights including the 14th Amendment "No state shall deprive a citizen of life, liberty or property without due process of law." The ordinance entails police taking survival supplies such as sleeping bags, blankets and tents from human beings. This is depriving people of their property. Furthermore, there are many cases of this inhumane ordinance directly leading to the death of human beings. Depriving people of survival gear in the middle of winter has led to the death of several Sacramento citizens, including a man freezing to death on the steps of city hall. Justice for All???
I believe the misuse of funds in Sacramento county and city is a deliberate choice and an immoral action. Elected officials are clearly more interested in building arenas, prettying up the riverfront, closing public bathrooms, shutting down water fountains, and arresting the poor, than they are in finding solutions. Did you catch that? Yes, the Sacramento City Council has shut off water fountains and closed public bathrooms! Can this be anything but a deliberate attack on the homeless citizens of Sacramento?! What's more the city has invested in noise machines! These machines blare all night as a way to deter sleep. #Right2Rest
We advocates provide solutions to the council every week. I bring up tiny homes and point out that other cities such as Seattle, St. Louis, Portland, and Detroit have found great success with tiny homes. We have also pushed for a temporary tent city. It is impossible to find a job or get back on your feet when you are constantly being harassed by police and forced to move from one piece of public land to the next. Allowing people to tent in a pre-ordained location would at least provide stability and remove a large amount of anxiety for all the homeless trying to re-enter the workforce.
Other solutions include making use of the high number of vacant buildings and vacant lots in the city. The current mayor has said "Sacramento has a problem with too many vacant lots in the city." I say "Let's use that space to provide affordable housing!" Other innovative ideas include, jackets that turn into tents, portable hammocks and mobile tiny homes.
I reject gentrification as a model of economic development. At the moment, Sacramento policies indicate a massive move towards gentrification. I support rent control in Sacramento. As mentioned above, the city of Sacramento has rents rising faster than anywhere else in the USA. People, who have lived in Sacramento for generations are being forced out of their homes. This is an appalling practice that needs to be dealt with. Rent control and just cause eviction can be one step in curbing this injustice.
The bottom line: it makes economic sense to help the homeless! When we house people we provide stability. Stability (and an address) makes it much easier to find a job. Once working, people can finally contribute to the economy both as a worker and a consumer. Finally, those newly employed members of society will be able to pay taxes to support public works. We waste money and police resources enforcing an inhumane and unconstitutional 'no camping ordinance.' It is time to repeal the ordinance and start helping human beings instead of pushing them farther down the ladder. Remember, the homeless community includes children, families, veterans, women, men and pets.