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Sacramento Considers Adding Homeless Shelters In Wake Of Deadly Winter

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento city leaders addressed an urgent need to add shelters for the homeless before winter hits.

The council voted to pursue a number of options including shelters that would run 24/7.

"Last winter we had two people die on the steps of city hall, and we never want to be in that position again," said Joan Burke with Loaves and Fishes.

The effects of last winter's brutal winter cold were on the minds of many Tuesday night.

"I think we're all better off if, instead of sleeping outside, they're sleeping inside, with sanitation, meals, and safety," said Burke.

One option would expand the county-run Winter Sanctuary Program of 100 beds to 150 and change the model of transporting the homeless to rotating local houses of worship.

Pending county approval, a new idea is a large commercial space in the city that would operate 24/7.

It requires $180,000 in additional city funding.

"The fact is it's very complex, and yes we don't want negative impact on businesses, or homeowners, so it's a tough problem, and it's taken been a while to find a good local, and I think we're there," said City Councilman Jeff Harris.

The city is not disclosing any shelter locations at this time. Harris says there are still contractual agreements that need to be worked out.

And through a separate local partner-- another 150 beds could be added. That shelter would open from Thanksgiving to March with a cost of about $500,000.

Yet, many members of the public say that's not enough.

"Three hundred beds? Yeah that's a good start, but let's not sit here and pat ourselves on the back for something that won't fix the problem," said one man.

"It's ridiculous, that's 1,700 too few," said another member of the community speaking out during public comment.

While 300 beds may not seem like a lot compared to the estimated 2,000 people who sleep on the streets at night, Harris says it will put a dent in the problem.

"We have to show that we can manage a shelter and that services can be effective, that we can move people through to housing solutions, so it's a substantial first step," said Harris.

The city is also considering a more permanent solution after the winter months that would house 200 people by offering around the clock care, a 24/7 triage center.

That could open as soon as spring of next year.

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