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Audit: Sacramento homeless crisis devoured resources, pushed city into chaos

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(The Center Square) – A city audit that reviewed how the city of Sacramento is dealing with the homeless shows the impact ranges from the tens of millions of dollars increased spending with more on the horizon, employees who are leaving the city to get away from the issue that impacts their jobs to the threat of criminal prosecution of city officials by the county district attorney.

The audit reviewed the city’s actions and spending on homelessness in 2022-23. It was delivered to the city council’s March 26 meeting, reporting that the city spent $57.3 million on homeless-related efforts that year, more than five times the spending on the issue since 2015. The number of homeless people in Sacramento County has increased from 2,659 in 2016 to 9,278 in 2022. The city has 26 contracts with homeless services providers totaling $45.7 million as of March 2023.

“The significant growth of the Sacramento homeless population has devoured resources, strained relationships, provoked litigation, and thrust the City of Sacramento (City) into the national spotlight for facing one of the most challenging homeless crises in the country,” the audit concluded.

The audit reported that homeless spending was widespread throughout the city with 12 of the city’s 17 departments having costs related to homelessness.

The example cited was the city’s Code and Housing Enforcement (Code) department having to redirect its employees to deal with as many as 2,000 vehicle complaints involving homeless people a year. The Code Chief stated that it’s difficult to recruit and retain employees in that department because code officers in surrounding cities such as Folsom and Roseville don’t interact with homeless people as much as they do in Sacramento.

The audit also cited a lawsuit filed by Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho in December against the city of Sacramento for failing to take action on homelessness and “threatened criminal prosecution of City officials.”

The DA claimed in the lawsuit the city was in a “spiraling descent into decay and this utter collapse into chaos” and that “the community remains trapped in this ‘Groundhog Day’ loop that keeps repeating itself where nothing changes, and nothing improves.”