City of Sacramento needs a long game on homelessness

Last week, I wrote of recent efforts to criminalize downtown’s homeless community (“War on homelessness,” SN&R Midtown&Down, September 27). But I want to return to one pressing issue: Sacto’s underfunded, meager shelter and sanctuary programs.

Media outlets recently reported a discouraging, miserable fact—just one out of every 10 unemployed Americans finds a job after a year. Ugh.

Assuming this report, based on San Francisco Federal Reserve data, is accurate, then how can Sacramento leaders ask its homeless denizens to transition back into housing faster than 90 percent of America’s unemployed can find jobs?

I’m sure it’s awful searching for work these days—but imagine trying to lock down a roof.

Yet this is the expectation—and it’s a huge reason why Sacto faces a world-class homelessness crisis.

It was nearly 100 degrees this past Monday, but the fall and winter shelter season is upon us. And available beds (which can be viewed at reveal a grim scenario: Most emergency and single-family shelters allow stays of just 30, sometimes 60 days, and there are obstacles: sobriety, referrals—and months of waiting.

As Julie Ferguson of Francis House Center explained to me on Monday, she has to choose four families each week out of an application pile of 40.

Ultimately, the American River Parkway or downtown’s alleyways start to make more sense.

It shouldn’t. Sacramento needs a better plan, and now, to provide the means and money to keep people indoors. And not just this fall and winter, but for the long game.