The recent rash of brush fires raging across the American River Parkway triggered a strong response Thursday from the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
The county is spending about $700,000 to tackle the duel problems of illegal camping and homelessness along the parkway, long considered to be Sacramento’s urban jewel.
“To me, given the tinder-dry conditions on the parkway, the fuel loads out there — combined with the ignition sources or illegal camps — it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Phil Serna, chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
As KCRA 3 reported, the American River Parkway has been the site of 34 fires since Memorial Day — many of them very near homeless camps.
Serna championed the relief package today that includes $216,850 for three additional park rangers, along with $101,237 for additional patrol resources at the Mather Regional Park/Dry Creek Parkway Patrol. The county will also spend $121,412 for Mather Regional Park Preserve Fencing and $55,000 for a homeless navigator.
“The navigator is the front-line person that brings them in to our system and ultimately into that housing,” said Ryan Loofbourrow, executive director for Sacramento Steps Forward.
The new funding also includes $160,000 for winter sanctuary housing for the homeless — money to help religious organizations find shelter for those in need. But the long-term goal is permanent housing.
“It does in fact keep people off the street and help them start to rebuild their lives,” said Maya Wallace, external affairs director for Sacramento Steps Forward.
On any given night there are between 200 and 300 people illegally camping on the American River Parkway, officials said.
One of them is Angel Tejeda, who is four-months pregnant.
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