Sentinel staff report–
Candidates for Citrus Heights City Council weighed in on homelessness in answers to a questionnaire sent out by The Sentinel, with proposed solutions including constructing tiny homes on Sayonara Drive, enforcing existing ordinances on camping, and seeking more funding.
Each candidate was asked the following question: The latest official count shows the number of homeless individuals in Citrus Heights nearly doubled between 2019 to 2022. Why do you believe homelessness is increasing, and what are two specific actions you believe can and should be taken in Citrus Heights to address homelessness?
Candidates were asked for responses as part of a three-question Q&A, with their answers posted in full below if submitted within a 100-word limit per question.
For more information and links to each candidate’s full profile and their answers to questions on road funding, taxes and public safety, click here: Election 2022: Who’s running for Citrus Heights City Council?
MariJane Lopez-Taff, District 2:
There are many reasons why homelessness is rising in California, not only in Citrus Heights. Locally, I believe many homeless people pass through the city because we have close proximity to two major travel corridors – Hwy 80 and the railyard. The few who consider themselves residents of Citrus Heights are known, offered services and provided many forms of assistance.
Two actions that are already supported by the City that I would continue to support are: (1) Continue funding the Homeless Navigator Program, and, (2) Continue to enforce laws when they are broken by anyone in our City limits.
Steve Durham, District 2:
The increase in homelessness in Citrus Heights is well below the State average. Furthermore, fixing homelessness is NOT a direct responsibility of Citrus Heights and other small-to-midsized cities! We can accomplish little on our own. We already have laws forbidding littering and “camping” within 50 feet of a roadway. We can enforce these laws a lot better. We need to help our mayor, state, and federal representatives to act to encourage job growth, provide grants to build affordable housing, control illegal drug trade, build rehabilitation facilities for addicts and those with treatable mental issues.
Michael Nishimura, District 2:
We should also work with groups like Sacramento Self Help Housing and Citrus Heights HART to try and be proactive in regards to people who are on the verge of becoming unhoused. I believe the new Beautification Crew will also help prevent homeless encampments from popping up within the City.
*Editor’s note: Candidate James Tipton did not submit responses to The Sentinel’s questionnaire.
Jayna Karpinski-Costa, District 4:
a.) We need to address the root cause of homelessness: mental health and substance abuse. I served on the Sacramento County Policy Board to address Chronic Homelessness. I watched dollars go to administration and leftovers to the street. These dollars need to go to mental health providers. Our CHPD can wage war on drug dealers.
b.) Homeless people need housing. The city owns several properties on Sayonara. Why not develop some housing (tiny homes, cluster homes) for people who want to remove themselves from the street. We can locate an office there to handle resources (Navigator, etc), maybe even basic services (HART).
Albert Fox, District 4:
The failed economy, joblessness, no enforceable process to move them from the street to housing options if available and the excessive numbers of released prison inmates without parole services and assistance all contribute.
Identifying housing options and services that comply with current state mandates and incorporate those into Navigator programs.
Enacting municipal regulations that provide for public protections in shopping areas, schools and public gathering spaces. Mandatory requirements for compliance with service assistance and housing options.
Manuel Israel Perez-Salazar, District 4:
I believe it’s rising because of inflation which is making it difficult for people financially. We need to set up better guidelines on where homeless individuals can and can not set up camp or loiter. We also need to set up more programs to help these individuals to get off of the streets and back on their feet.
Porsche Middleton, District 5:
Homelessness is caused by addiction, untreated mental health issues, and lack of affordable housing. Our police department conducted an annual census before Covid to have an accurate account of individuals impacted by homelessness, including individuals at risk of becoming homeless.
Homelessness is a regional issue, and until we get our share of funding from the county, the City will continue to fund our navigators and renter’s helpline with Community Development Block Grant funding from the federal government to support innovative solutions to keep people from becoming homeless.
Natalee Price, District 5:
Homelessness increase is complex. The fentanyl/opioid epidemic affects one’s ability to function in society; accessibility of affordable housing and drug/mental health services; pandemic-related job loss; increased cost of living; staffing shortages in homeless support.
We can continue investigating areas to safely build housing above businesses, then rezone. We should keep our resource teams supported with a citywide homelessness committee and proper funding. We could consider a dual-diagnosis inpatient facility that safely houses drug-addicted mentally unstable persons while addressing their needs. Work with resource teams to transition them into jobs and permanent housing after graduation of the program.