Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's Subcommittee on Homelessness is holding its first public meeting this afternoon at the Historic City Hall Chambers. The group is trying to come up with a short-term response to homelessness.
A few days after Sacramento Police arrested several homeless people and advocates for camping in front of City Hall in early January, Mayor Johnson announced the creation of the subcommittee.
"Nobody wants to be in a situation where our city has folks that feel like they're left behind and your voice is not heard,” said Johnson. “So these three council members are going to start engaging with you."
Those three council members have been working with advocates like Joan Burke of Loaves and Fishes, the non-profit Sacramento group that feeds the homeless, and Safe Ground. Burke says the subcommittee is also looking at best practices in other cities.
"Members of the subcommittee and members of Safe Ground went up to Seattle on Friday to look at some of the things Seattle is doing to address this problem, such as Nickelsville (a tent city) and legal places for people to camp outside and tiny cottages grouped together,” says Burke. “And the hope is that may point Sacramento in a direction that has worked elsewhere."
"The people who have been camping in front of city hall have raised public consciousness of this,” says Burke. “And I think it's created an opportunity for action and we need to seize the moment. So a speedy proposal is what people are working on."
The subcommittee is expected to issue a report to the full city council by mid-April. Burke says about 1,000 people sleep outdoors on any given night in Sacramento.