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American River Messenger

At-risk Children Imperiled

Aug 02, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Patrick Larenas and Susan Maxwell Skinner

Sac County District 3 Supervisor Rich Desmond and District 6 Assembly candidate Cathy Cook were among those who protested the placement of Sac City Respite Center on 3616 Auburn Blvd near the Children's Receiving Home on 3555 Auburn Blvd. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

At-risk Children Imperiled [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Urgent protests of residents, businesspeople and activists fell on deaf ears last week, as Sacramento City Council gave the go ahead to establish a 24-7 homeless sanctuary near the corner of Watt Avenue and Auburn Boulevard. 

The center will occupy what looks like a finger on the Sacramento City land map, surrounded by the unincorporated County, just yards from a long-established shelter for vulnerable children. The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento is located immediately adjacent to a shuttered campus once occupied by a City-run science museum. The repurposed facility will soon house up to 50 homeless men and women. 

More than 100 people protested the new shelter location. Less than a day later, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and his council voted unanimously in its favor.

“This decision is gut-wrenching,” said District 6 Assembly candidate Cathy Cook. “If any child from the Receiving Home gets harmed by this decision, the City Council will have blood on its hands.”

Cook was among community leaders who grabbed signs and joined the protest. 

In a speech to protesters, Cook questioned Steinberg’s objectives in placing a homeless facility so close to a children’s safe haven. The location, she suggested, exposes kids to “the exact traumas they are trying to overcome.”

District 3 County Supervisor Rich Desmond voiced objections in a letter to the City Council.

“The negative impacts,” said Desmond, “will not occur within the city’s geographical boundaries. In fact, County law enforcement and municipal services will end up shouldering this burden.”

Desmond underscored the unfairness of causing unincorporated county residents and businesses bear the brunt of the shelter’s impact. These people, he noted, could not vote to hold City decision makers accountable.

Desmond believes the center would also undermine other amenities "' such as the nearby safe car camping site "' by over-concentrating homeless services in one area.

Another speaker, Arden-Arcade resident and social worker Aimee Williams questioned the city’s “Good Neighbor” policies relating to homeless facilities. She expressed doubts about security, background checks, drug testing and shelter residents leaving at nights. 

“I vehemently oppose Mayor Steinberg’s plans,” she said. “The Receiving Home is where children go when first removed from their homes by Child Protective Services. This is one of the most traumatic experiences a foster youth faces. It is our moral and ethical obligation to protect children "' above anyone else.”

Mayor Steinberg’s office issued this response, “The City’s Department of Community Response has worked extensively over the past month with representatives of the receiving home. Included in Tuesday’s Council action was a good neighbor policy that includes such items as round-the-clock security, monitoring of crime data, a no-camping zone around the center and the exclusion of registered sex offenders.”