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Homelessness: Here’s what Citrus Heights city council candidates say

Homeless camp
Trash reportedly left behind at a homeless camp on Sycamore Drive in Citrus Heights. // Reader photo submission

All eight Citrus Heights city council candidates were recently given an opportunity by The Sentinel to submit written statements on a variety of local issues, including homelessness. Seven of the eight candidates submitted statements by the Oct. 22 deadline, and their answers are provided in their entirety below.

On Nov. 8, voters will pick two of the candidates to represent them on the five-member Citrus Heights city council. Each candidate was allowed up to a 100-word response per question.

Q: Homelessness is ranked among the top issues faced by businesses and residents in Citrus Heights. What is your plan to address this and what role do you see private organizations playing? (Be specific)

Jeff Slowey: “I truly believe the homeless ‘issue’ is a regional issue and will not be solved alone by Citrus Heights. That aside, for the current budget year, the City Council doubled the budget for our Homeless Navigator program. This program has proved very successful last year with over 50 percent of those requesting assistance moved into some form of permanent housing or ongoing services. All in all pretty good results for a start-up program. Additionally the newly formed HART group (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) made up of business representatives and City resources is looking for ideas to dive deeper into this arena.”

>>Learn more about HART and the Navigator program: Citrus Heights seeks to address area homelessness”

Bret Daniels: “We must be proactive in our approach and not simply reactive. Let’s find the homeless that are searching for a way out of that lifestyle and help them get there by providing assistance with basic human needs, resume preparation, and even some limited income helping clean up the city. Those that simply want to live a lifestyle of drugs, garbage, and panhandling need to be shown the way out of our city.”

Rick Doyle: “For now, the newly funded ‘Navigator’ program started by the HART team seems to be getting great results in ‘navigating’ a large number of the homeless into programs that can help those that want to help themselves onto a path that can help to transition them to self sustainment. We can’t help them all, and will never eliminate homelessness, but this seems to be a program that is working to reduce the numbers significantly. On a small city budget, there is only so much we can do, but this seems to be getting the best results.”

Marcel Weiland: “People are homeless for different reasons and need help in different ways. Our approach to homelessness should first seek to understand the complexity of the problem and then develop a two-prong approach that addresses the immediate urgent needs of the person, such as food, clothing, and housing in bad weather, as well as the long-term needs such as medical care, mental health care, job training and housing assistance. The City cannot provide all or even most of these things, but we can partner with local private organizations in order to connect the homeless with the resources they need to improve their lives.”

Tim Schaefer: “The City’s role in the homeless issue is to coordinate with other cities in the region to support programs and agencies for documenting the homeless. Two existing programs are Homeless Assistance Resource Team and the Winter Sanctuary program, which is limited to 20 homeless participants. With about 200 homeless people in the city, this limited space serves two purposes.  It creates a bit of a competition which helps to identify the individuals who are truly ready to take advantage of available services and secondly it makes facility security more manageable. This program should be expanded to more than just the winter months.”

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Porsche Middleton: “Citrus Heights has a Navigator Program that connects the homeless with local resources and regional programs. The full time Navigator helps to connect these individuals to organizations like HART and regional resources located in Sacramento County. Further development of these programs will be critical to addressing the issue of homelessness in Citrus Heights.”

Amor Taylor: “I believe we can reduce homelessness by addressing the needs of those who seek help. Their most immediate needs are meals and a place to shower. I would like to see a place where they can receive a meals on a regular basis rotating with private organizations and volunteers to assist, then be directed to local services and resources for assistance and a possible work program. As mentioned in Roseville, where they are assisting with street cleaning and other jobs. If an individual had $6, it’s not likely they will take a bus downtown to get services. It’s meeting them where they are.”

Want to share your thoughts on homelessness? Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Candidates were also asked other questions about enhancing public safety, body cameras, marijuana regulation, fiscal policy, and Measure B. Although agreeing on many issues, candidates hold opposing views on Measure B and police-worn body cameras, and also have differing approaches to enhancing public safety and other issues.

To see each candidate’s answers to all eight questions, see article:Citrus Heights city council candidates on the issues, in their own words”

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