A California Democrat announced a lawsuit against the liberal city of Sacramento on Tuesday, claiming that officials have failed to address the homelessness crisis and allowed conditions comparable to “third-world countries.”
Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho torched city officials for neglecting to enforce ordinances regarding homelessness.
During a Tuesday press conference, Ho explained that the homeless population has increased 250% within the past seven years, noting that Sacramento has more people living on the streets than San Francisco.
Ho called it a “descent into decay,” claiming officials have allowed the city to “collapse into chaos.” The city’s refusal to enforce the law has caused “an erosion of everyday life where we forget what it feels like to be safe,” Ho claimed.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Ho engaged in a back-and-forth battle with the city, urging officials to clean up the encampments and consistently enforce the law. His office surveyed nearly 3,000 residents to ask how the unchecked homeless encampments, which have taken over their neighborhoods, have impacted their quality of life. Residents reported physical and verbal assaults, fires, littering, public nudity, sex acts, and defecation.
He noted that the city is at its “breaking point” and “stuck between compassion and chaos.”
“We need to have compliance and enforcement of laws that are on the books,” Ho said during the press conference. “I received an email from the city attorney; she wrote, ‘The [Sacramento Police Department] is simply not issuing citations for unlawful camping, unlawful storage, sidewalk obstructions, or any of the homeless ordinances.’ She went on to write, ‘Our data indicates that we have received zero citations for referral for prosecution. We can’t prosecute cases if cases aren’t presented to us.’”
“Not a single prosecution by the city attorney’s office or by the city in the last year. Not a single one,” Ho continued. “Why pass laws if you’re not going to enforce them? Is there a mandate from city hall for law enforcement not to enforce the law? Or are there procedures in place at the city level that make it difficult, that make it cumbersome, that make it inefficient for law enforcement to enforce the law?”
Failure to enforce the law has impacted the safety of those residing in the homeless encampments, city residents, and business owners, he added.
Ho is asking the city to expand its existing ordinance that only allows the homeless to camp around city hall at night to the entire city. The lawsuit also requests that the city provide real-time updates on available shelter beds that can be accessed by law enforcement.
Sacramento Democratic Mayor Darrell Steinberg responded to the lawsuit, claiming that the city has made hundreds of beds available to the homeless and created affordable housing units.
“We are working day and night to enforce our laws and provide relief to our community while avoiding the futile trap of just moving people endlessly from one block to the next,” Steinberg stated.
“Frankly, we have no time for the district attorney’s performative distraction from the hard work we all need to do together to solve this complex social problem plaguing urban centers throughout the state and nation,” he continued. “The city needs real partnership from the region’s leaders, not politics and lawsuits.”
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