To the homeless people of Sacramento: Welcome to a harsh winter.
written by Tom Armstrong of Sacramento Homeless blog [sacramentohomeless.blogspot.com]
Mayor Kevin Johnson's "Winter Shelter Task Force" has failed to step up to its mission: To alleviate the worst of suffering by homeless people in Sacramento in the chilly season that runs from mid-November till spring.
While some people — including insiders like those associated with the extreme-leftist-politics Safe Ground Movement1 — have guaranteed motel rooms for the whole of the cold period, most of the rest of us are likely to need to scamper constantly to escape very harsh conditions. We will sometimes succeed in gaining shelter, and oftentimes be left out in the storm.
While the VOA-run Overflow shelter at Cal Expo in winters past was horrible, run with unrelieved ineptitude, holding homeless people imprisoned for (effectively) 16 hours a day, making getting or keeping a job impossible, the situation this year has resulted in a favored few getting special treatment, and most of the rest of us facing misery and conditions that can be health threatening.
The mayor, for all his kindheartedness, and his task force — representing major organizations in the local homeless-help industry — didn't do their job. According to Tim Brown, a member of the task force, from a letter he sent to the Sac'to County Supervisors & quoted in a Sacramento Press article, “We have faced implementation challenges, but that is to be expected any time an effort is made to do innovative work across several organizations and jurisdictions in a short period of time.” That's bull. The task force has been a bumbling parade of circus clowns.
105 beds at Mather the mayor claimed to have secured in a late October press conference proved to be uninhabitable. Plus, another 100 beds that were claimed to have been secured, weren't. [The committee hadn't reached agreement for the 100 beds at Extended Stay America, and the hotel chain backed away from further discussions.]
The Cal Expo shelter/jail of years past did do one thing, that which was central: It sheltered people from the storm, often taking in EVERYONE to assure that vulnerable people were not left outside when the weather became bitter. Too, people on the street knew they had this ONE PLACE [The "staging area" at the Delaney Center] they could go to where there was an expectation they could obtain shelter.
This year, things are in chaos. There is no place to go; no one place to call; no one or no place has taken responsibility. Having contacts or being an insider at Loaves or at VOA or at St. Johns is the be-all, end-all.
Per always, the Sacramento homeless-aid industy has shown, with its ineptitude, lack of grace and absense of compassion, that it is unworthy of the population it is tasked to help.
1 The Safe Ground Movement advocates for a revolution in America to end capitalism, bar advances in technology and guarantee jobs for all. See the writings of Cat Williams in the People's Tribune [http://peoplestribune.org/PT.2008.05/PT.2008.05.05.html, for example] or the blogpost "Far-left visionaries at 'Homeless Power Forum' hope to transform America" in Sacramento Homeless blog [http://sacramentohomeless.blogspot.com/2009/10/far-left-visionaries-at-homeless-power.html]