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Townhall Tackles Homelessness in North Natomas

Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby introduces speakers during an online townhall meeting about homelessness in north Natomas. / Photo via Zoom

By Christopher Loupeda
Staff Writer | The Pacific Times

Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby recently presented her plan to address homelessness in north Natomas during a recent town hall meeting held online.

Ashby represents District One on the Sacramento City Council. The Town Hall took place on Feb. 17, 2021 and more than 250 members of the community attended.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, Sacramento Interim Director of the “community response” office Bridget Dean, the executive director of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment agency LaShelle Dozier, and the advocacy director of Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, Joe Smith also spoke.

Ashby said she has three distinct goals for District One.

“From a District One perspective, I am proposing 100 scatter sites,” said Ashby.

Ashby is looking to house homeless families in 100 units all over Natomas. These units include apartments, houses, and duplexes. Rent will be taken care of through the county and city budgets.

Smith surveyed the individuals at Loaves and Fishes and shared statistics.

“25% of the folks we surveyed had experienced homelessness as a child,” he said.

Ashby is looking to change that. Her scatter site model would be centered on the homeless with children. The families will also be provided wraparound services and visited often as well as signed up to health care, child care, and assisted with groceries.

Ashby’s second goal in District One is more long-term.

“I believe we [Natomas] would also be a good home for a family shelter,” said Ashby.

Ashby said that it would be necessary to either build a new facility or convert an old hotel to complete this goal. Her focus remains mainly with women and children to help them escape violent environments.

Finally, Ashby focused her attention city-wide for her last goal. She expressed the desire to establish a “zero model.”

This “zero model” sets the expectation that Sacramento will have more housing units available than families needing housing.

“As soon as it comes to our attention, we have resources for them,” said Ashby.

With adequate funding, Ashby believes this final goal is achievable by the end of the year.

The city of Sacramento also has five ways it wants to act to address homelessness.

Dozier introduced five general points the city has discussed for a while:

  • The use of scattered sites where homeless individuals can stay in apartments and hotels across the city for free.
  • A second idea was to identify safe parking spots for individuals who live in their cars. The city is looking to provide these people with showers and access to bathrooms.
  • The third idea Dozier introduced was the establishment of sleeping cabins for individuals aged 18 to 24. So far 24 cabins have been set up in Sacramento at the St. Paul Church of God in Christ in North Sacramento.
  • The fourth idea Sacramento is exploring is motel conversions. So far, 350 rooms have been set up with 700 individuals housed right now.
  • The final node of Sacramento’s plan was to continue establishing permanent residences for the homeless

The city is also looking to address the mental health crisis of many homeless.

Dean said, “The Sacramento Police Department…on average [receives] around 4,000 calls a month related to homelessness from the community.”

Officers specifically trained for mental health crises are being formed to effectively receive and respond to these calls.

“I’ll never forget one of the calls we pulled up and the mom… repeatedly said that the officer saved her son’s life,” Hahn stated.

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