Since early December, a group has been protesting the City’s ordinance prohibiting camping on public or private property. While it’s everyone’s constitutional right to protest, the City must still enforce the laws involving the protection of public health and safety.
The Mayor and City Council take the challenge of addressing homelessness very seriously, and continues to work with City staff and partners to address the situation. Since the occupation, the Impact Team of the Police Department, Patrol and Bicycle Officers, in conjunction with Sacramento Steps Forward navigators have been on the scene providing information about resources and shelter every day.
Despite our efforts, the group outside City Hall continued to grow, with some members becoming uncooperative and proceeding to set up tents and camp on the premises. Police had no choice but to enforce the City’s ordinances related to camping that lead to arrests of several individuals.
City worked with Sacramento Steps Forward to assess each individual’s situation and offered services
Since December 8, Sacramento Steps Forward navigators have contacted 61 individuals at the protest site, offering assistance.
- 12 refused services
- 12 indicated they may be willing to work with Sacramento Steps Forward
- 37 were assessed by Sacramento Steps Forward
All 37 of those assessed are on the community queue for permanent housing
Sacramento Steps Forward will continue to offer help for those who refused or any new protestors.
- Two additional people were reunited with loved ones out of town through Sacramento County’s “Return to Residency” program.
- Since the protest began, police have been working with the group to try and assist them in conducting their protest in a lawful manner. When the protesters began to use illegal camping as a means to conduct their protest, Officers passed out copies of the city ordinances regulating camping and the storage of property along with a printed list of resources. Officers asked protesters if they needed resources or services but most did not accept any that were offered.
- The goal of the Police Department has been to seek compliance with the law and enforcement has been the last option. For the three days prior to enforcement on January 2, officers met with the group 12 times in both the day and night to educate the group and ask for compliance. Just prior to the enforcement on January 2, officers asked the protesters to comply one final time, giving them almost one hour to wake up and remove camping paraphernalia before citations were issued. Officers have contacted Winter Sanctuary, the Union Gospel Mission, The TLCS Respite Center, and the Volunteers of America Men’s Shelter to locate available shelter beds and indoor respite and offer them to the protesters at night.
- All police contacts with the group have included offers of transportation to these services. Two people have accepted a shelter bed and two have accepted a ride to the warming center at Union Gospel Mission. Officers provided help to one protester who was in need of medical treatment.
Several individuals refused to take advantage of programs offered
If the individuals are camping at City Hall, it is not because there are not available housing and shelter options. They are camping in protest of the ordinance or they are camping because they do not wish to take advantage of the programs offered. Over the past year, Sacramento Steps Forward’s Common Cents program has yielded the following successes throughout the County:
- Completed vulnerability assessments on more than 1,537 individuals.
- Connected 625 people with mental health services and 148 with substance abuse treatment.
- Helped 243 people access public assistance benefits.
- From January through November 2015, the entire homeless system of care in Sacramento County (shelters, transitional housing, outreach navigators) helped to house 3,455 people.
- Seventy-three of the most vulnerable of the homeless population came directly off the streets, and, through the outreach navigators were placed in permanent housing.
- More than 495 veterans and 396 chronically homeless were moved into permanent housing.
- Starting in the next few weeks there will be rental housing availability for 345 people and/or couples currently in the queue through a City, County and Sutter Health partnership.
Long-term solutions that offer lasting outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness will remain our goal
In a single year, through a purposeful collaboration with the County, Sutter Health, and Sacramento Steps Forward, we have made tremendous progress in housing the most vulnerable population. We now have a single point of entry toward housing, which has not been the case for decades with the partnership of over twenty-five non-profit organizations focused on preventing and ending homelessness.