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Sacramento Could Be First To Establish 'Legal Right To Housing' — Here's How It Would Work

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A first-of-its-kind housing proposal is on the table at the Sacramento City Council Meeting. The city could become the first to establish a "legal right to housing" for the homeless.

The move would prevent the homeless from camping on streets and in parks if city housing is available.

Mayor Darryl Steinberg says he wants to "move to needle" on the homeless crisis here in Sacramento by 2023. Two civil rights groups say the law is bad policy and could violate constitutional rights.

Under the plan, when the city offers a homeless person at least two forms of shelter or housing that person has to accept it or be moved from their site.

Two homeless community members, Rhonda Clayborne and Chris Lance, say if the city offered them an option inside where they could stay along with their dog, they'd be happy.

"As long as we can be together, I have no problem," Chris said.

So what do these housing options look like? The two options could be structures like rental homes, apartments, hotel rooms, shelters, trailers, and tiny home villages, or safe ground camping sites.

Homeless advocates question the legality of the proposal and say the trauma of being uprooted may cause bigger problems.

"When people refuse those two options for whatever reason? What's going to happen to them?" Faye Kennedy with the Poor People's Campaign said,

Mayor Steinberg says those who refuse, wouldn't face criminal or civil charges, but the city could enforce a no-camping policy where they stay.

He says it's possible for the people who decline, there is a chance they could just move their site down the street.

"This is not perfect, yes, but if we put the law behind us, we will help more people," said Mayor Steinberg.

The ordinance would only cover people who have been housed in Sacramento for at least one year before becoming homeless.

Steinberg says that's needed to prevent the city from becoming a "magnet" for homeless people.

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