Sacramento Mayor Steinberg spends $23 million on another homeless hotel

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced this week that the city had received a $23.9 million Homekey grant to convert a downtown hotel into housing for the homeless.

$23 million is four times the annual budget of many successful local programs that help homeless people change their lives.

The city and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency announced plans to turn a Best Western hotel into a 92-unit homeless apartment complex. The apartments will have bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchenettes.

Indeed, the city competes with known successful private programs that actually change lives. The chance to get a nice new apartment at no cost for a guy living in a tent on the sidewalk is a more attractive carrot than a program to help him quit meth and straighten out his life.

This is the third hotel converted by the city to “permanent supportive housing” using Homekey funds. The words sound impressive, but are they?

This last apartment complex will not be completed until autumn 2022 – within 9 to 10 months.

What could go wrong moving mentally ill people, drug addicts and homeless ex-convicts into newly renovated apartments?

Sacramento has more than 11,000 homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted and convicted felons living on the streets of Sacramento according to the 2020 homeless count. It is likely higher as of 2022.

With a population of 500,000, neighborhoods across the city of Sacramento have been ravaged by homeless vagrants allowed to live on the streets, in “safe spaces,” parking lots, RVs, RVs and cars, and in city parks, rather than moving around a large, organized campus to meet their needs and get treatment.

Last summer, Steinberg offered to open homeless shelters, tiny houses and tent camps in 20 neighborhoods and residential locations across the city. It didn’t go well.

Steinberg has also approved tiny apartments in a renovated former downtown hotel, which cost more than $445,000 per unit for about 250 square feet of living space, as reported by The Globe.

The mayor says 15 of the proposed apartments at the Best Western will be funded by the Mental Health Services Act, the millionaires’ tax drafted by Steinberg when he was in the state assembly. Sacramento County will directly provide mental health treatment to these residents…that is, government mental health services.

“Residents in other units will receive support services from LifeSTEPS, which serves more than 80,000 residents in 250 projects statewide,” the mayor said.

What is LifeSTEPS? Never heard of them?

According to LifeSTEPS Executive Director Beth Southorn, she “has propelled LifeSTEPS to its current status as one of the leading social service providers in affordable housing, now serving more than 36,000 homes representing more than 100,000 residents nationwide. ‘State of California’.

This number is significant if 100,000 homeless residents of the state are now housed. But LifeSTEPS doesn’t say how many years that covers, or how active they’ll be with the remaining 77 residents.

Counting only the largest cities in the state, California has more than 115,000 homeless people living on the streets. According to a 2021 federal HUD report, the actual statewide total was 161,548 in 2020, an increase of 7% from 2019. The Globe looked at homelessness statistics from largest cities in the state and listed them (in no particular order):

The homeless populations of California’s largest cities. (Photo: CA Globe)

It is interesting and curious to compare California’s largest city, Los Angeles, and the 6th largest city in the state, Sacramento, which have the largest homeless populations in the entire state at 66,500 (LA ) and 11,000 (Bag).

Even San Francisco, a city of 875,000, has 8,000 homeless vagrants at the last official count in 2019. There must be more today in 2022.

What are these cities doing wrong to have such significantly larger vagrant homeless populations? And how has California Governor Newsom managed to increase the state’s vagrant homeless population while spending billions more on it since taking office in 2019?

Calling the state’s vagrant homeless population “homeless” has justified spending billions of taxpayer dollars housing the homeless in nice new apartments, renovated hotels and tiny houses.

Just look at what the City of Sacramento says: “The City and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency will work with Danco Communities, the project developer, to transform the Best Western Sutter House at 1100 H Street into 92 units. with bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchenettes. “, indicates the City on its website.

Remember that the amount of this project is 23 million dollars.

What could this $23 million grant do for the city’s 11,000 homeless people walking the streets at night and sleeping on them during the day?

The transformational Haven For Hope Campus and Courtyard in San Antonio had an annual budget of $20 million in 2018. Haven for Hope coordinates and delivers an effective system of care for the homeless in San Antonio, TX. They were a national model of efficiency. On the 22-acre campus, they serve 1,700 people daily in on-campus residence and another 700 in a low-barrier emergency shelter.

They bring multiple service providers to their campus to treat people in residential care with addictions and mental health treatment, and partner with 140 organizations to provide 300 different services to homeless people, including counseling for homelessness. employment, education, life skills training, legal services, child care and many other needed services and programs.

And they do it every year for what Mayor Steinberg wants to spend to turn another hotel into 92 apartments.

Despite spending millions on futile “solutions” like tiny homes, FEMA trailers and remodeled hotel rooms for the city’s growing homeless population, Sacramento’s 11,000 passengers aren’t getting treatments offered at Haven for Hope.

They are also not receiving the residential care offered under the Union Gospel Mission Sacramento’s 9-month program, which The Globe recently featured. “We donate 8,500 to 9,000 meals a month to the homeless, and we’ve continued this even during the COVID shutdowns,” Pastor Tim Lane told The Globe. Union Gospel Mission offers a Bible-based twelve-step course and Heart of Addiction program, an anger management course, weekly counseling with their chaplains, assigned tasks to serve the homeless community, and follow-up with getting a job, schooling, finances, reconciliations, transportation and housing.

And they do it every year for about a fifth of the cost of Mayor Steinberg’s one-time hotel renovation.

Union Gospel Mission and Haven for Hope have a proven track record because their programs are based not on luxurious apartments or kitschy little homes, but on life-changing mental health and addiction treatment and faith-based and other programs. focused on individuals.

The governor and these big-city mayors strongly disagree with these wasteful schemes that spend mountains of taxpayers’ money. Do they even care about the broken people living on the streets, or is handing out money mandatory, or even too intoxicating?

Reminds me of the Top Gun line: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”

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Nicholas E. Crittendon