At least 9,278 Sacramentans are estimated to be without a home, with majority of them sleeping outdoors or in vehicles. Homeless encampments have also popped up on levees, near schools and next to busy roads. Given this, Sacramento County now has the second highest rate of per-capita homelessness in the entire Golden State.
Exorbitant housing costs are to blame in the dramatic rise of homelessness in the River City. According to the Guardian, the median home price in Sacramento County has surpassed the $500,000 mark. The median monthly rent, meanwhile, is now $2,774 – more than five percent higher than the 2021 rate.
A report by the non-profit Sacramento Steps Forward attested to this, stating that the high cost of housing plays a huge role in growing homelessness. It found that median rent in the city climbed 14 percent between January 2017 and April 2019, and continued climbing an average of 20 percent between March 2020 and November 2021.
"Rising rents have pushed longtime residents onto the streets, while the shortage of affordable housing has made it difficult for them to find anywhere else to go," the Guardian reported. Figures from 2015 widely acknowledged to be an undercount listed Sacramento's homeless population at 2,659. This rose to 5,561 people in 2019, and to 9,278 in 2022.
"Sacramento, the capital of the fifth largest economy in the world, lacks over 100,000 units of affordable housing," said Sacramento Homeless Union President Crystal Sanchez. "We can't survive here. I've lived here my whole life."
"We have encampments everywhere," said Sacramento Coalition to End Homelessness Executive Director Bob Erlenbusch. He commented that the situation in the River City has "changed dramatically just in the last three years." (Related: The capital of California is collapsing into chaos, feces, drug addiction and homelessness… and it's all run by Democrats, of course.)
Sacramento City Councilor Katie Valenzuela, meanwhile, said: "Our shelters are full of people who have stabilized [and] found jobs [but] can't find housing. You're starting to see a lot more folks who just can't find housing – a lot more seniors [and] folks with disabilities."
Sacramento's homeless crisis is an issue in the upcoming midterms, as the city's Measure O will appear on the city's ballots. Formally known as the Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022, Measure O would ban encampments on public and private property. It would also allow residents "harmed by unlawful camping" to take a legal action against the city.
The measure mandates the city, through the city manager, to establish a minimum number of shelter spaces. Homeless people, meanwhile, could face a misdemeanor charge if they turn down available shelters offered to them.
Measure O received the backing of local business leaders dissatisfied with the wanting response of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. Lawyer Daniel Conway, the former chief of staff to Steinberg's predecessor, Kevin Johnson, pointed out that Steinberg and the city council's actions toward homelessness in the last five years were "an impasse at best [and] finger pointing at worst."
"That is, in many ways, what the city is currently able to do," Conway said, referring to Measure O. "We definitely see an emphasis on enforcement, and when it comes to creating shelter capacity, officials kind of shrug their shoulders."
Erlenbusch predicted that Measure O will pass in the midterms, saying: "None of us would be surprised [if] it passes because of the anger in the community." This, he explained, is because Sacramento's measures were a failure that left residents, advocates and neighborhood councils exasperated with nothing to show for it.
"The go-to response for most communities is to go back to criminalizing people experiencing homelessness, which they did. We have a homeless crisis, and elected officials are doing hardly anything about it – except for continuing to criminalize people."
Watch this footage of homeless encampments in Los Angeles – a familiar sight in Sacramento and other California cities.
This video is from the ZGoldenReport channel on Brighteon.com.