Tents and tiny houses for the homeless

Jeff vonKaenel

Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren has put forward a plan to provide shelter for as many as 700 people in a vacant lot in the Noralto section of North Sacramento. The property is at the corner of Edgewater Road and Lampasas Avenue, a little less than a mile from SN&R’s offices.

As opposed to building a shelter, Warren’s Renewal Village could be set up quickly. There would be space for 200 tents, plus services for the homeless. Another 500 people would be able to stay in cabins, tiny homes and single-family homes. The site would also include a health clinic staffed by WellSpace, a clubhouse, dining hall, dog park, community garden and a playground for children, as well as a job training site and an area where people could safely sleep in cars, Warren told The Sacramento Bee.

This plan is affordable. Kerrin West of First Step Communities, the organization that is putting together the proposal, told The Bee that the tent project could be done for less than $3 million. Other estimates for the tent project come in at $5.4 million.

I have two words to say about Warren’s proposal: Thank God. Thank God for a real proposal that can actually make a dent in our homeless crisis. I appreciate Warren stepping up to the plate, just as I have admired Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg taking the lead in trying to provide shelter for so many here in our city.

Steinberg called on each of the eight City Council members to come up with a plan to house at least 100 homeless people in their district. And remarkably, all of them have done so except District 6 Councilman Eric Guerra. However, Warren in District 2 has been the overachiever in this endeavor.

I am not an expert, and I don’t know if Warren’s plan is a good or not. But I’m excited that it might provide needed housing for 700 previously unhoused people. And I have a message for those who do not like Warren’s plan. They need to provide an alternate plan to provide housing for 700 people. If they do not actually have an alternative, but instead are wiling to let people sleep on the sidewalks in the rain and the cold, that’s not a practical or humanitarian alternative.

Earlier I mentioned thanking God for a housing shelter solution. As a Christian, I believe we should only support those politicians who will rescind the tax breaks for the wealthy and use that revenue to help those in need. While conservative evangelist churches should be praised for raising millions of dollars for the poor, these charitable donations do not compensate in any way for the billions of dollars in government poverty programs that the candidates they support are eliminating. It makes no sense for us to pass the plate for millions and then give the rich billions of tax dollars that could and should help the poor among us.

That we gave a tax break to the wealthy in our community while others are living on the streets is a moral stain on our community.

It is up to us to change it.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.