During the recession, Sacramento County slashed funding for things like mental-health services and emergency homeless shelters. Nonprofits and faith-based groups have stepped up in a big way, expanding operations and kickstarting winter-shelter programs during the frigid, angerous months to live outdoors. I didn’t agree with the county’s budget priorities, but I accepted the dire financial circumstances.
But someone please explain to me how the county’s latest homelessness policy move makes any damn sense at all:
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. The new rules would limit the number of people to 125 and the number of nights to 30.
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. We can’t have that. We need to crack the hell down! Someone whip up some arbitrary new restrictions, stat!”
Needless to say, faith-based leaders and advocates for low-income Sacramentans lost it. They fired off letters to the supervisors and mobilized.
I myself was about to make a call over to county HQ when, on Monday night, it was announced that it had “deferred” a 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.