Homelessness is a tragic and difficult problem. Solutions must involve meeting needs for shelter and access to social service programs while remaining sensitive to the needs of surrounding businesses and residences. Sacramento County says its contractor for homeless services navigators, Sacramento Steps Forward, is getting a handle on things. We certainly wish them well with that.
Yet in Arden Arcade the issue of homelessness is compounded by panhandlers (homeless or not) at key intersections, often in the median strips. The County's response has seemed to emphasize periodic law enforcement and, at some locations, median strip fencing. At the regular Sheriff's meetings people have been advised to not donate money to panhandlers. All of this seems to be like squeezing a balloon--the air just goes someplace else. In Arden Arcade, "cleaning up" the "homeless problem" with median fencing and occasional law enforcement sweeps in one place just seems to result in relocation instead of solution. Watt and El Camino was once ground zero. Then median fencing went up. Subsequent Sheriff meetings noted that Arden and Howe was the center of activity. Lately, it's been looking like El Camino and Howe is the new center. There are beggars at the gas station and the median strips. Overnight campers can be seen at the Mirage banquet hall and the massage business where the emergency vet office used to be. If that area is targeted for solution, will it end "the problem" or just move it again? Where is the next place? Arden and Fulton near the recycling center? Or someplace else?