Friday, January 23, 2009

Tent encampments may have moved much closer toward being realized

This map which was published with the Bee article will be replaced with SacHo's own map as soon as is possible.
Legal campsites for homeless citizens within the county of Sacramento have moved a big step closer toward being realized, based on news reported in a front-page article in today’s Sacramento Bee.

The Sacramento city and Sacramento county governments are moving toward recognition that persons rent homeless are not criminals by result of the circumstance of impoverishment.

The Bee article, written by the reporter assigned to the homelessness beat, Cynthia Hubert, tells us that the leaders and police in the city and county, and higher-ups in so-called homeless-advocate organizations, are now scouting for possible locations where encampments may be established.

Prime spots being considered include a location within the American River Parkway, close to the Blue Diamond nut processing plant, and just a little more than a half-mile from Loaves & Fishes. [See map.] Another idea is to establish an indoor tent city inside a now-empty warehouse.

There was a lot of optimism expressed in the Bee article that opinion has coalesced toward creation of a tent encampment for the homeless. Mark Merin, the lead attorney in a long-standing lawsuit on behalf of the homeless, against the city and county, is reported saying that he is now optimistic something will get done.

Our city’s new major, Kevin Johnson, appears to be fully supportive. His knowledge of success with a homeless encampment in Phoenix, where he lived while playing for the Suns basketball team, assures him that such a project can be successful.

However, enormous opposition to any set plan is certain to emerge. Home and business owners near any proposed encampments are sure to complain bitterly about any perceived cost to their happiness, safety or livelihoods. It’s the well-known (and at least somewhat legitimate) NIMBY argument: Not wanting anything In My BackYard that is undesireable and can possibly negatively affect one's happiness or livlihood.

Comments posted online in response to the Bee article were overwhelmingly negative toward the establishment of any tent encampments. Many of the comments were quite nasty and demonstrated a profound ignorance of what causes homelessness and what homeless people are like.

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