A divided Sacramento City Council approved two new 100-bed homeless shelters on Tuesday, one in South Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood and the other near Oak Park.
The Meadowview shelter — next to the Sam and Bonnie Pannell Community Center — will be for women and children only. But Councilman Larry Carr, whose district includes Meadowview, voted against it.
"Just because we don't want a shelter doesn't mean we don't care about homelessness," Carr said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The council member says there are already ways for low-income people to get financial assistance to find a home. He also had concerns about homeless people with substance abuse issues staying near a community center where young people hang out.
Councilmember Angelique Ashby also voted no, saying the city shouldn’t be in the business of running shelters. She pointed to problems at another shelter in North Sacramento, the winter triage shelter on Railroad Drive just north of the American River, that had a bedbug infestation.
"We don't do shelters, and we really don't do them well,” Ashby said.
But Mayor Darrell Steinberg — who supported the shelter-openings — said winter is coming and shelters are the best way to help the most people.
"Many people have said to me, and I have listened, 'Mayor, slow down.' The numbers do not allow us to slow down,” he said. “We have the chance to get hundreds of women and children off the streets."
More than 5,500 homeless people are estimated to be living in the Sacramento area, including more than 1,100 women and children.
Money for the shelters will come from the city’s 1 cent "Measure U" sales tax fund, as well as state dollars.
Ashby also said the city is opening itself up to lawsuits by operating shelters.
"This is our shelter, the city of Sacramento shelter. So, if we do do this and a child does get hurt, guess who's responsible? Us,” she said.
Steinberg urged his colleagues to act. “If we were to turn this down, we would in fact, for this winter at least, be relegating hundreds of people, including hundreds of women and children, on the streets,” he said.