During my tenure on the Board of Supervisors, I’ve observed various approaches and strategies addressing the County’s homelessness dilemma. In the past I have referred to the age-oldconcept of “the carrot and the stick” which frequently emerges in conversations about the governance and regulation of the homeless community. At its core, this idea reflects the universal balance we all strike between rules and rewards.
The complexity of this issue increases when considering asegment of our community that is battling mental health challenges and drug-related disorders. Such individuals can lose track of their possessions, remain unaware of their conditions due to “anosognosia,” face the harshness of outdoor living, and regrettably, some become targets for nefarious elements within and outside their community.
My recent discussion with the Sheriff’s Office brought forth a key insight: the homeless are not an isolated group, but an intrinsic part of our broader community. Their primary distinction is the lack of a fixed address, and the conscious choice to detach from societal norms. This, understandably, presents unique challenges for our tax-paying society. For example, how does one monitor parolees without an address?
In the unincorporated areas of the County, the Board of Supervisors addresses these challenges by bridging the divide. Programs such as Navigator outreach, Park Rangers, Sheriff HOT Teams, and sweeps serve to maintain a connection with our homeless community. These operations identify encampments, determine if there are criminal records among inhabitants, combat human trafficking, and shield the most vulnerable. Sheriff Cooper’s pragmatic approach to law enforcement underscores a simple truth: the laws exist, they merely need consistent application.
Recently, DA Thien Ho took an unprecedented step, sending a message to the City of Sacramento that reiterates this sentiment. His letter emphasizes the necessity for the City of Sacramento to uphold existing laws, especially concerning the management of the downtown homeless population. The point isn’t to demonize, but to highlight the importance of consistent enforcement of laws.
The current policy direction in our state has unfortunately widened the gaps in public safety and how we enforce laws. Buta lingering question remains, how much longer do taxpayers have to bear the burden of problems amplified by legislative inaction? This isn’t just an abstract statement; it’s a call for accountability!
Despite the obstacles, I remain hopeful. With leaders like DA Thien Ho and Sheriff Cooper standing up for justice and law,there’s a silver lining. Even in the face of criticism, I hold a positive outlook for our Safe Stay communities. Their mission is to pave the way for treatment and brighter prospects for those who need it most. DA Thien Ho’s commitment to tackling Sacramento’s homelessness issue signals a tide of change.
His candid criticism of Sacramento City’s officials, especially regarding the inconsistent enforcement of rules, such as the encampment-clearing ordinance, resonates with many. A new approach is overdue. Residents of Sacramento, both in the County and City, should reside in a place free from illegal encampments, and most importantly everyone deserves an opportunity for a stable future.
Thank you for Reading – and as always if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.gov.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, North Highlands, Rio Linda, Elverta, and Rancho Murieta.