“It's not enough,” community leader says
Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen
At tonight’s meeting, the Sacramento City Council will vote on several investments of American Relief Plan (ARPA) funding aimed at improving safety citywide according to a press release from the Mayor’s office.
These are the first specific contracts to be approved of the City’s $112-million ARPA allocation. They include funds to continue a popular program of PopUp activities for youth around the city and to improve safety and cleanliness in downtown and Old Sacramento according to the press release.
“I’m proud that we have consistently put our federal Covid relief dollars out to work on behalf of our community,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “The dollars we will approve Tuesday will support our small businesses in downtown and Old Sacramento by creating a cleaner and safer environment for visitors. They will also keep young people in our neighborhoods safe by giving them productive and entertaining ways to spend their evenings.”
Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who represents downtown and Old Sacramento said these kinds of investments are creating a path to recovery for many downtown businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.
“I’m also excited to see us vote to spend $1.3 million to extend PopUp programs aimed at engaging youth in the area,” Valenzuela said. “These programs are a fantastic example of a preventative and pragmatic approach to issues concerning youth, and I’m very happy to see our city continuing to support them.”
To continue PopUp events, $1.3 million in federal Covid relief funds are being allocated for two dozen non-profit organizations in Sacramento’s disadvantaged neighborhoods which are staged on weekend nights in various locations around the city.
The Sacramento Youth PopUp program was launched in 2019 by Sierra Health Foundation with support from Mayor Steinberg’s Office, the City, and Comcast with the idea coming from Voice of the Youth founder Berry Accius.
“They [Popups] are great because they create resources and jobs for young people but the problem has increased,” Accius said.
Accius is frustrated not because the popups are not necessary but because programs like the Popups do not have sustainable funding. He also said that from pandemic, new problems have emerged that will take different resources and funding.
“The community Popups is one resource that won’t tackle multiple issue,” Accius said. “I hope they don’t think that giving money to things that we have already been doing to solve these problems that we’re now facing is enough. There need to be ongoing programs.”
Chet Hewitt, President, and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation said the Sacramento Youth PopUp program started because of disruptions caused by young people at Arden Fair Mall and quickly turned into a robust youth engagement program.
“By centering on fun, social activities in communities with little [resources] for young people to do, the PopUp program is now a safe space and home for youth of all backgrounds,” Hewitt said. “The fact that more than 115,000 youth have attended and over 150 youth have been employed is an example of how investing in a community-based solution can both keep our city safer and help our young people thrive."
Tuesday’s vote will bring the City’s total spending on PopUps to $8.08 million over the three years since the program began.
Other items before the Council tonight include $800,000 for the Sacramento Downtown Partnership to hire two nighttime security guards to assist in crime prevention, install decorative lighting, and put bollards on L Street and Second Street to allow more of the area to be cordoned off for public events.
Another $4.2 million will directly go to install more lighting and security cameras in Old Sacramento.
The City is also expected to approve $1.15 million to increase the schedule for pressure washing and trash cleanup, hire two nighttime security guards and enhance the lighting in the J, K, and L street corridors between 7th and 13th streets.
Lighting improvements will include sound-activated lights that would create an interactive experience for people who visit K Street according to the Mayor’s office.