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Commentary: Homeless and Property Need a Place

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 17, 2011

In a legal settlement crafted two years ago, the county agreed to collect, tag, and store the property it seizes from homeless people that is not obviously trash - decomposing food for example, or vermin-invested bedding. It holds the property for 90 days, and posts notices in areas where homeless congregate to tell them where and how to retrieve their belongings.

It's the practical and moral thing to do. For the destitute people involved, items seized are often survival gear: tents, sleeping bags, medicines and identity cards. They should not be tossed.

This legal squabble over seized property has become a wasteful distraction. The region should spend energy on permanent solutions, establishing safe ground for example - suitable locations where homeless people can just be. Preferably, simple cabin villages with social services, privately financed by churches or other non-profits.

Local governments should also work with private charities to create storage facilities. Without them, hundreds are forced to lug their belongings with them at all times, in plastic bags or shopping carts. It's inconvenient for the homeless, and a nuisance for the wider public.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.

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