City significantly expands sheltering options for people experiencing homelessness

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday adopted an emergency ordinance that significantly expands sheltering options for people experiencing homelessness.

Authorizing the establishment of privately-run temporary shelter facilities, the new ordinance allows the City to quickly issue permits for “safe-ground” tent encampments, parking lots and tiny home communities.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg called the ordinance “vital,” adding that “we must act now – and frankly more effectively – to actually build, implement and raise from the ground the shelters, the tiny homes, the safe parking lots – all the options we have been talking about … .”

The size of any such temporary shelter facility will be capped at 80 beds. Council members will be responsible for selecting potential locations in their districts, with some members already launching site discussions in their communities.

New temporary shelter facilities require only an administrative permit to locate on any assembly site (such as a church property) or on sites in commercial or industrial zones at least a half mile away from an existing temporary shelter. All sites must be 500 feet from sensitive uses such as schools, childcare centers or parks.

Sites are required to have an onsite manager, as well as lighting and quiet hours. They also must have plans for restroom facilities and garbage disposal.

The emergency ordinance goes into effect immediately and will remain active so long as the City is operating under a declared shelter crisis.

Also on Tuesday, Steinberg proposed a resolution to direct the City to procure 63 tiny homes in the next 50 days — including eight that the City already has in inventory — and place them on publicly or privately owned sites around the city identified by Councilmembers representing each district. The plan is slated to come before the Council on Jan. 26.

The crisis of unsheltered homelessness is one that impacts an entire community, both those experiencing homelessness and the broader community of housed residents, businesses and neighborhoods, officials said.

Over the past several years, the City has made significant investments to increase access to shelter, services, and permanent housing for people and families experiencing homelessness. Despite these efforts, homelessness and its impacts have continued to rise. The Council currently is developing a comprehensive master plan to address the crisis.

The City recently released an FAQ to help inform residents about how the City responds to people experiencing homelessness and homeless encampments within City limits.

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