A California District Attorney from the Democratic Party has initiated legal action against Sacramento, led by Democrats, accusing the city of neglecting the homeless situation, likening it to conditions in underdeveloped nations.
Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho, in a press conference on Tuesday, conveyed that his office is pursuing legal action against the city of Sacramento, citing violations of the state’s civic code. The lawsuit claims the city failed to address the rising public safety issues concerning the homeless population.
The document points out a significant increase of over 250% in Sacramento’s homeless population in the last seven years. It mentions that the city now has more homeless individuals than even San Francisco, drawing attention to the dire circumstances. The lawsuit stresses the difficult situation both the homeless and the general community are in.
Ho, during the press meet, lamented the repetitive nature of the problem, emphasizing the urgency for change. The suit mentions warnings sent earlier by both Judge Michael Bowman and District Attorney Ho about the growing number of tents near the courthouse, which they believed hindered access to justice.
According to the lawsuit, there have been daily disruptions involving aggressive behavior by homeless individuals, causing safety concerns for jurors, victims, and witnesses. In reply to this, Mayor Darrell Steinberg claimed measures were being taken, but the situation only worsened with incidents such as assaults and harassment occurring in the vicinity.
Ho also shared feedback from a community survey about the impact of major homeless encampments in Sacramento. The feedback was deeply troubling, with accounts of violent encounters, health hazards, and a perceived lack of assistance from the city officials. The lawsuit also notes the police’s seemingly relaxed enforcement of existing regulations on homeless encampments.
Highlighting the duration and depth of the crisis, Ho underscored the risks the homeless face, including exposure to extreme weather conditions. The lawsuit further sheds light on challenges within the homeless community, like high rates of sexual assault and prevalent mental health and addiction issues. The city’s expenditure on tackling homelessness and its efficacy is also questioned.
Previously, in August, Ho had warned city officials of potential charges if tangible changes weren’t seen within a month. Among his demands was the introduction of a daytime camping ban.
Reacting to the lawsuit, City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood criticized Ho’s approach, suggesting it lacked a collaborative spirit. Mayor Steinberg termed Ho’s move as a distraction but acknowledged the legitimacy of people’s grievances. Steinberg cited steps taken by the city, like the addition of emergency shelters and efforts for more affordable housing, urging regional leaders for collaboration over conflict.