Sacramento County means well, but ends up nearly hurting churches that shelter homeless people

During the recession, Sacramento County slashed funding for things like mental-health services and emergency homeless shelters. Since then, nonprofits and faith-based groups have stepped up in a big way. They’ve expanded operations and kickstarted winter-shelter programs during the frigid, dangerous months to live outdoors. I didn’t agree with the county’s budget priorities, but I accepted the dire reality.

But someone please explain to me how the county's latest move makes any damn sense at all:

Recently, the county announced a plan to make it harder for churches and nonprofits to take care of those most in need. There goal was to actually help these places of worship. But they ended up hurting.

On Tuesday, supervisors were scheduled to approve a code update that would restrict the number of homeless people that a church, synagogue or mosque could house at a time, and the number of times a year they could offer shelter. Currently, there are no limits.

That's right: Someone on county staff—perhaps County Executive Officer Brad Hudson, loafing on his swanky office furniture—actually thought to themselves, “Oh, those darn churches, taking homeless people in at night during the cold, that's no good. We can't have that. We need to crack down on that.”

OK, so like I mentioned beforehand, the county’s goal wasn’t to hassle the churches. But they did. They didn’t reach out to stakeholders and see what would work. Typical county disconnect when it comes to homelessness issues.

Needless to say, faith-based leaders and advocates for low-income Sacramentans lost it. They fired off letters to the supervisors and mobilized.

And on Monday night, the county announced it had “deferred” its vote on the plan. Staff is going to reach out to the community, hold a forum with homelessness nonprofit Sacramento Steps Forward, and revisit the idea in a month.

Good. It's obviously going to take at least that much time to pull their heads out of their asses.