In May 2019, I wrote my first article on the tragedy of homeless people living on our streets. The column was titled “Is Sacramento Dying?” It was based on the documentary film “Seattle Is Dying.”
The film was produced by Seattle TV station KOMO in 2018. It begins with a bold thesis: This is about an idea. For a city that has run out of them. What if Seattle is dying? Can it ever recover?
The column was the most widely shared article on our website—shared thousands of times. Many readers feared our city was following Seattle’s course, driven by a lack of civic leadership.
The response helped me recognize the inadequacy of Sacramento media coverage. Homeless problems were not being seriously discussed in 2019. At Inside, we vowed to publish news, viewpoints, ideas and solutions in every issue moving forward.
Mia Siino is a 17-year-old sophomore at St. Francis High School. She is the third of four children in her family. It doesn’t take long after meeting Mia to discover she is a fun, outgoing and determined young woman. Mia also happens to have Down syndrome.
Mia tells me she loves working with little kids, dancing, hanging out at Starbucks, her friends and school. I find her enthusiasm contagious. “Her favorite day of the year is her birthday, and she loves to celebrate it for as long as possible,” says Mia’s mother, Karen Siino.
School counselor Nora Anderson says Mia is always first to jump in and help with whatever is needed. Mia’s mom says her daughter strives for more independence and plans to go to college, get married, work and live on her own one day.
I’m convinced most folks have no idea how much work happens behind the scenes with local government and leaders trying to resolve our homeless crisis.
Frustrated friends and neighbors tell me the city or county “does nothing” when an encampment gathers and grows. I decided to take a close look at two camps near my home and report on what’s really being done.
Commerce Circle is a commercial zone with offices and warehouses west of the Cal Expo Boulevard Costco. For two years, businesses on Commerce Circle endured some of the most extreme impacts of homelessness.
I recently joined the Community Advisory Board of the local Del Oro division of The Salvation Army. My financial donations started with my father, who gave my sisters and me dollars to stuff into Red Kettle campaigns at Christmas. My parents loved how the mission helped communities in inner city Detroit, where we grew up. I’ve made donations for more than 60 years.
Recognized throughout the world for its humanitarian work, thrift shops and donation kettles, The Salvation Army is an evangelical Christian church. It has one agenda: to meet the human need in the name of God without discrimination. Because they work on the frontlines where people are in need or suffering, Army workers refer to themselves as soldiers.
I first met Christopher Price 25 years ago when he became our family doctor. He was straight out of medical school, and I recall him making the case for a family practice. Here’s what I recall: When one physician treats all members of a family, the doctor can interact with the family more frequently. In the process, the physician sees people when they are healthy, not just sick.
This idea made sense to my husband and me. At one point, Dr. Price saw me, Jim, our children and my elderly mother. It worked out for everyone, and I had the opportunity to get to know our doctor.
Last year, 43 people were homicide victims in Sacramento. The number was a 26% jump from 2019, when the city endured 34 homicides. The trend has continued this year, with 44 homicides as of early October.
The increase comes from a variety of factors, not just the pandemic, Police Chief Daniel Hahn says.
“For example, our specialty units, whether it’s our problem-oriented policing officers or our gang officers, they’ve been pulled out of our communities to work protests,” he says. “So they haven’t had a presence. They haven’t been working as much as they normally do in our communities.”