Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sac Bee Editorial: A compromise for the city's homeless

Sac Bee Editorial: A compromise for the city's homeless

Published Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2009

The expensive cat-and-mouse game the city of Sacramento is playing with homeless campers and Mark Merin, their attorney and would-be landlord, is futile. Just this past Saturday, police rousted 15 homeless campers from the vacant lot Merin owns north of downtown, arrested them and confiscated their tents and other belongings. Even if the city wins – that is, if the homeless permanently vacate the lot where Merin has allowed them to camp – it loses. Evicted campers will just move to some other illegal camp elsewhere in the city.

We don't condone what Merin is doing. His attempt to set up a campground on land he owns near 12th and C streets has upset the neighbors, and understandably so. No one wants scores of homeless people encamped at their doorsteps. Pedro Hernandez, the elderly gentleman who owns the lovingly restored and immaculately maintained Victorian just across the fence from Merin's homeless campsite, deserves better.

There is a reasonable alternative, one that even Hernandez supports. The city ought to declare a 3-acre site on Bannon Street, north of downtown, safe ground legally available to homeless campers. The plot is owned by the county's housing authority. It sits behind two homeless shelters run by the Volunteers of America and the Union Gospel Mission. It has plenty of shade and running water. It was used as a homeless camp in the 1990s until illegal drug use led to its closure.

Advocates for homeless campers are working with HomeAid, the charitable arm of the Building Industry Association, to design the facility. There would be a central kitchen, a dining area, showers and toilets.

The goal of safe ground is not to make people more comfortable in their homelessness, a concern that's been raised by some opponents, but to provide a safe, reasonably sanitary place for people who have no other legal place to be when shelters run out of space. Surely it beats the floating illegal campground that the city and Pedro Hernandez are dealing with now.


Previous Article:

Sacramento police arrest 17 at homeless camp ~ By Cynthia Hubert  ~ Published: Saturday, Sep. 5, 2009 - 12:00 am

Related Links:
Outlawing Homelessness ~ By Kristen Brown + + +


Indeed, this is a complex compromise for a tough situation in these tough economic times. We need to re-design the whole way social services are delivered by the County of Sacramento and actually employ those we aim to help in the process who are employable so they have the job income to secure their own homes.

Many of our homeless refugees have great skills, talents and powers we need to assess, harness and channel into sane, sober and stable lifestyles with a vision for creating permanent affordable housing. We need to work with our creative imagination and develop our infinite potential. Sac-VOA on Bannon Street is scheduled to be re-structured for homeless families in October, thus, children will be involved and this changes the whole chemistry of the local situation.  ~Peta-de-Aztlan~

Education for Liberation! Venceremos Unidos!

Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta

Sacramento, California, Aztlan

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Come Together! Join Up! Seize theTime!


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