Sacramento’s homeless ‘shelter crisis’ could enable RV camping within city

The city of Sacramento is poised to declare an “emergency shelter crisis” that would bring millions of dollars in state money to fund structures on unused city land for hundreds of people now living on the streets. The Sacramento Bee reports that advocates for homeless people said they support the declaration and intend to use it as leverage to fight against an ordinance that makes it illegal for homeless people to camp in the city.

If successful, the door could be opened for “homeless” people that happen to be living in an RV with places to camp legally within the city limits. Sacramento is one of 11 California cities eligible for $150 million in state money to fund homeless programs in the coming year. The declaration could have impacts beyond funding tent shelters. It would allow the city to place homeless shelters on any land owned or leased by the city, as well as to adopt minimum public health and safety standards. Under the declaration, the city may allow homeless people (including homeless RVers, one would think) to occupy “designated public facilities.”

Homeless advocates said that wording gives them an opening to once again challenge the city’s ordinance against camping outdoors for more than one day at a time and that homeless people could legally occupy city property including parks and parking lots.

“We’ve consistently called for a moratorium on the enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance,” said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. The city attorney’s office is analyzing what impact the emergency declaration might have on the anti-camping ordinance.

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