Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants each city council member to find a location for a homeless shelter in their districts. Proposed sites already exist for three, including at Cal Expo and a downtown hotel. But Councilman Larry Carr, who represents Meadowview and parts of South Sacramento, does not want a proposed location in his district to be the fourth.
The mayor is eyeing a vacant lot next to the Pannell Center softball field on Meadowview Road. It has acreage, is paved, and there’s access to utilities — just some of the requirements the city is looking for in a shelter site.
The mayor says he understands people may not want a shelter in their neighborhood, but he added that residents regularly ask for help with homelessness issues..
“Between January and August of 2019, there were 962 calls for service relating to homelessness in District 8,” Steinberg said.
The mayor also made promises to residents about the shelter site. “If we open a re-housing center, a triage shelter, No. 1, it will be quality. No. 2, we will only outreach to people who are homeless in and around the area.”
But Carr says the shelter doesn’t belong at that Meadowview location. “There should be some common sense criteria that has to be applied, mainly that you shouldn't put it near houses, community centers, parks, swimming pools and things like that," he said.
Both Carr and the mayor agree there are few sites in District 8 or in the city that meet this criteria. The councilman has been trying to find sites in Sacramento County, instead.
There are no houses in view of the proposed site, but there are several apartment complexes across Meadowview Road. Shalia Ratliff lives in one, and was not in favor of a homeless shelter.
“We got children here,” she said. “There's a school right up the street. It's really busy with a lot of older people and children. I think [the shelter] might come with a lot of different activity on this side of the street.”
She also worries about garbage and trash that might accumulate. Steinberg says the new shelter would come with neighborhood cleanup crews like the ones that worked at the recently closed winter triage shelter in north Sacramento.
Joe Johnson, who lives around the corner from the community center, thinks the shelter is needed. “Very badly,” he added. “It might be a little close to the park, but I don't think it will be a problem. There's buses right here, a store, resources. So, I don't see a problem."
The Meadowview Road shelter site would cost an estimated $10 million.
Steinberg says it is an opportunity to make the area better. “If we do not open these kinds of facilities, the problem will get worse on its own, and then people will be unhappier than they are today,” he said.
A survey in January indicated that 73 percent of the unsheltered homeless population was in the city.