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Guest Opinion: It’s time for real action on homelessness

By Sue Frost–
During my tenure on the Board of Supervisors, I’ve observed various approaches and strategies addressing the county’s homelessness dilemma.

In the past I have referred to the age-old concept of “the carrot and the stick” which frequently emerges in conversations about the governance and regulation of the homeless community. At its core, this idea reflects the universal balance we all strike between rules and rewards.

The complexity of this issue increases when considering a segment of our community that is battling mental health challenges and drug-related disorders.  Such individuals can lose track of their possessions, remain unaware of their conditions due to “anosognosia,” face the harshness of outdoor living, and regrettably, some become targets for nefarious elements within and outside their community.

My recent discussion with the Sheriff’s Office brought forth a key insight: the homeless are not an isolated group, but an intrinsic part of our broader community. Their primary distinction is the lack of a fixed address, and the conscious choice to detach from societal norms. This, understandably, presents unique challenges for our tax-paying society. For example, how does one monitor parolees without an address?

In the unincorporated areas of the county, the Board of Supervisors addresses these challenges by bridging the divide. Programs such as Navigator outreach, Park Rangers, Sheriff HOT Teams, and sweeps serve to maintain a connection with our homeless community. These operations identify encampments, determine if there are criminal records among inhabitants, combat human trafficking, and shield the most vulnerable. Sheriff Cooper’s pragmatic approach to law enforcement underscores a simple truth: the laws exist, they merely need consistent application.

Recently, District Attorney Thien Ho took an unprecedented step, sending a message to the City of Sacramento that reiterates this sentiment.

Recognizing the importance of this message, neighboring cities like Citrus Heights are not only taking note but also actively participating in solutions. Recently, the City of Citrus Heights announced a proposed partnership with the Sacramento County Department of Homeless and Housing and Sacramento Covered to enhance healthcare access for its community.

Sacramento Covered will deploy Community Health Workers for on-ground services to the homeless. The IMPACT team, experts in areas like Problem-Oriented Policing and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), will lead this effort, aiming for lasting solutions to improve residents’ and businesses’ quality of life. This team collaborates closely with the Homeless Navigator, Task Force Detectives, and the Sunrise MarketPlace District Officer under the Community First initiative. It is clear that the goal is not to cast blame, but to ensure laws are consistently enforced.

The current policy direction in our state has unfortunately widened the gaps in public safety and how we enforce laws. But a lingering question remains, how much longer do taxpayers have to bear the burden of problems amplified by legislative inaction? This isn’t just an abstract statement; it’s a call for accountability!

Despite the obstacles, I remain hopeful. With leaders like DA Thien Ho and Sheriff Cooper standing up for justice and law, there’s a silver lining. Even in the face of criticism, I hold a positive outlook for our Safe Stay communities. Their mission is to pave the way for treatment and brighter prospects for those who need it most. The DA’s commitment to tackling Sacramento’s homelessness issue signals a tide of change.

His candid criticism of Sacramento City’s officials, especially regarding the inconsistent enforcement of rules, such as the encampment-clearing ordinance, resonates with many. A new approach is overdue. Residents of Sacramento, both in the county and city, should reside in a place free from illegal encampments, and most importantly everyone deserves an opportunity for a stable future.

Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or

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