The City of Sacramento has leased its property at 2225 Colfax St. to Safe Ground Sacramento, Inc., a non-profit organization that has agreed to assist the current residents at the site transition to a self-governing “safe parking shelter,” which will accommodate all the current residents in City-supplied trailers or resident-owned RVs.
The cost of the lease is $0, and its length is 120 days, renewable in increments of 120 days until all the residents obtain permanent housing.
The lease agreement is the first of its kind for the City. It was brokered by Councilmember Sean Loloee, who represents the district; Sacramento City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood; Mark Merin, executive director for Safe Ground Sacramento; and Anthony Prince, an attorney for the Sacramento Homeless Union who represents the residents at the site known as “Camp Resolution.”
“I am incredibly proud that through months of hard work and open communication we found an innovative solution for this site that benefits our entire community,” Loloee said. “This agreement, the first of its kind for Sacramento, highlights the City’s flexibility and willingness to explore new ways to address the ongoing homelessness crisis with a variety of partners.”
“Safe Ground Sacramento, Inc. was organized in 2009 to oppose enforcement of the city’s unlawful-camping ordinance and to advocate for homeless people to be given secure places where they could live without fear of being moved, so that they could obtain services, address the issues which caused or contributed to their homelessness,” Merin said. “We are anxious to assist Camp Resolution residents to demonstrate that homeless people can self-govern and assist each other to obtain permanent housing.”
“It was the leadership of Homeless Union officers Sharon Jones, Joyce Williams, Crystal Sanchez, and the determination of the Camp Resolution homeless residents themselves, that made this possible,” Prince said.
According to the agreement, the site can accommodate up to 33 trailers and vehicle parking spaces as determined by the Sacramento Fire Marshall.
As stated in the lease, Safe Ground Sacramento will release the City of liability for the site and, together with the City and other providers and the residents themselves, keep the property safe and clean. The site will be self-governed by a resident council, and an operations plan, approved by the City, will be adopted within 30 days of the commencement of the lease, which includes adherence to a “good neighbor policy” adopted by the Camp Resolution residents.
In addition to a good neighbor policy, the operations plan also will include:
- Rules on how a waitlist will be maintained for any spaces as they become available
- Rules regarding maintenance and security for the site
The City has agreed to provide up to 33 trailers for the site as well as privacy fencing. In addition, the City, with its partners at the County of Sacramento, will continue to work with people staying at the site to connect them with services and more permanent housing.
The Colfax site previously was part of the City’s Comprehensive Siting Plan as a potential location for sleeping cabins. However, the site is subject to land-use conditions by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board due to soil contamination, which limits the use of the site only for safe parking.
The City requested and received a variance from the Water Board and later paved portions of the site in accordance with the variance. Following further consideration, the City decided not to move forward with the plan because of concerns about operating costs relative to the number of people served.
After a group of individuals experiencing homelessness began residing at the site this past fall, the City’s Department of Community Response conducted numerous outreach engagements and provided notice of the Water Board’s restrictions.
Representatives from Safe Ground Sacramento, Inc. subsequently contacted the City and proposed the operation of a self-governing site there that would be compliant with the Water Board’s and City’s conditions and would require limited resources from the City.
A non-profit, tax-exempt organization, Safe Ground Sacramento “has demonstrated an understanding of the needs of those experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the city and a dedication to the pursuit of safe communities in which unsheltered households can find safety and stability, while also addressing barriers to housing,” the lease agreement states.
Leasing the site to Safe Ground Sacramento for use as a safe parking shelter promotes the City’s goals to remediate homelessness and is consistent with the City’s 2035 general plan, officials said.