County's Proposed Cuts Include Tent City Shelters

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

**Note: Scroll down for the dates and times of the budget workshops where testimony on each department's cuts will be heard.

Remember why Sacramento’s homeless Tent City first landed on the national radar?  It was Oprah Winfrey.  A visit from one of her correspondents to the camp site along the American River sparked a lot of media coverage.  And eventually, local officials, homeless advocates and other stakeholders hammered out a solution: temporary housing at several area shelters … and more permanent options down the road.
Now, those same temporary shelters would lose their county funding starting July 1st if the proposed budget cuts go through.
Wagstaff: “You could say they’re ironic – you can put any label on them you want.  I’d put ‘em on there as being unfortunate and a fiscal necessity.” 
Bruce Wagstaff heads the Department of Human Assistance, which oversees the county’s response to homelessness.
Wagstaff: “We’re running into this cliff that would put a big hole in our continuum of care that we are actively planning: how are we gonna fill that gap?  And I don’t have an answer as I sit here today, but we have committed people working very hard to address that.” 
The deficit is so big that officials in every county department are proposing cuts they never thought they’d have to make – from sheriff to probation to health and human services.  And Wagstaff says his department is no different.
But that doesn’t satisfy Joan Burke, a homeless advocate with the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen.
Burke: “I understand that the county is in a serious financial predicament.  I also understand that it is totally unfair to close emergency shelters right after the city closed down Tent City.” 
Burke says the proposed cuts would eliminate 40 percent of the county’s available shelter beds – beds used by women, children and the elderly.
Burke: “It’s inconceivable that the county can even contemplate doing this – and yet they are.” 
Burke is urging the public to testify against the shelter cuts at this week’s budget workshops.  Of course, supporters of other services on the chopping block will be there as well. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2:00 p.m.             
District Attorney
Indigent Defense (Public Defender and Conflict Criminal Defender’s Office)
Animal Care and Regulation
Regional Parks
Thursday, May 14, 9:30 a.m.
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Behavioral Health
Department of Human Assistance
In-Home Supportive Services
Medical Treatment Account
Human Services Coordinating Council Advisory Board
Cooperative Extension
General Government: 
          Neighborhood Services 
          Voter Registration and Elections 
          Cooperative Extension
Internal Service Departments:
          Department of Personnel Services
          Department of General Services
          Department of Finance