There are practical matters you have to address when it comes to serving the homeless population, that’s for sure.

Even people who are prone to compassion for the homeless have concerns about vagrancy, panhandling, trespassing, vandalism, waste, and more. Campers with no where to be and no where to go can change a place dramatically. That must be recognized.

So best to have a plan. When we’re talking about the emergency shelter facility Sutter County is planning, there must be some tolerance, and expectations that the county-sponsored facility, planned and orderly and with regulations and monitoring, is going to be better than the helter-skelter manner of outdoors camping.

Sutter County is planning on opening a shelter at 1965 Live Oak Blvd. Some community members, particularly those in the surrounding neighborhood, have voiced concerns about the location. The facility would offer temporary shelter for homeless people, but exactly how it would work hasn’t been reported as of yet; and we don’t know exactly what sort of facility it will end up being – it could be a collection of Tuff Sheds, similar to the

14Forward facility in Yuba County.

The facility will be on the Sutter County supervisors’ April 9 agenda. The interim county administrator might have a chance to make some headway with neighbors if he can supply them with as many details as possible on what the facility will be like and how it will be operated. Sutter County is at the point where it must do something – it is illegal to disallow camping if there is no alternative for homeless people to go to rest. And the encampments along the bottoms are growing at an alarming rate.

But, still, neighbors have real concerns to deal with. It’s going to be up to the county, now, to prove that they are taking those concerns seriously and working on solutions. Smith should be ready to begin reviewing measures that will be taken to mitigate constant transient traffic through the neighborhood, allay safety concerns, explain how the program will be managed with what number of personnel, security measures, services and programs that would be available. 

An area resident interviewed for a story published earlier this week, emphasized that neighbors aren’t against helping homeless people or the county creating a shelter ... but they don’t like the location. They’re worried about crime, theft, vandalism, safety.

She said neighbors have composed a list of concerns – that they actively screen applicants for the facility based on willingness to participate in programs, that they have no current addiction issues, that those with histories of criminal or violent behavior or sexual misconduct not be allowed. We’re not sure that this facility can have the sort of high standards for admittance that neighbors would wish; it’s an alternative to camping.

What they don’t want is a constant stream of transients coming through their neighborhood to get into the shelter. Can that be avoided? The county should address it.

Regardless, we come to the point where we don’t see any better location than one near the edge of town, along a levee system, in a mixed use area. It’s going to be somewhere like that no matter where; and there are going to be neighbors who are concerned no matter where.

So here’s hoping the county comes up with a good set of plans for the shelters, a good organization to run it; good bylaws for how it will be operated; and ample security – not just around the facility itself, but around the neighborhood it is situated in.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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