Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen
A 9-year-old male was shot while he and his unhoused family were resting in their vehicle and it was struck by gunfire on Saturday according to Crystal Sanchez, President of the Sacramento Homeless Union.
The family was parked at Larchmont park in North Highlands when the boy sustained a gunshot wound to his buttocks and is currently in the hospital Sanchez said in a press release.
The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office has yet to confirm this.
Sanchez, the spokesperson for the mother, said the mother is dealing with trauma from this event.
“The mother has multiple children and is trying to hold down two jobs while being unhoused,” Sanchez said.
“Because their vehicle is evidence it is being held by law enforcement. The mother is unable to even retrieve her wallet or possessions. This is a family caught in the crossfire of Street violence.”
The 9-year-old boy is not the first unhoused to have been a victim of gun violence recently.
Melinda Davis was an unhoused woman who was one of six people who lost their lives in Sacramento’s largest mass shooting on record on April 3.
Sanchez was part of a press conference after the April 3 shooting, denouncing the violence in Sacramento and that unhoused individuals continue to be caught in the crossfire of violence.
“Violence comes in many forms, not just through shootings,'' Sanchez said at the press conference
The Homeless Union has sent multiple emails to the City alerting them of the violence happening on the streets and says it has been met with no responses to those emails.
The most recent email Sanchez sent was on March 25th asking the mayor of Sacramento to denounce violence on the streets publicly.
"The unhoused have now become a target because of the war on our streets," Sanchez said in that email.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg returned the email with a phone call with an unlisted number and asked Sanchez to call back. She says she emailed the mayor and let him know she did not have his number and never heard back.
The mass shooting occurred a couple of weeks later.
“Dangers that perpetuate harm are being practiced daily within the city of Sacramento,” Sanchez said.
Since the mass shooting there continues to be violence with at least two shootings or acts of violence occurring per night.
“While each one of us in the community can go home, lock our door, and be protected by the roof and walls of our homes; unhoused individuals are forced to be in the line of fire no matter where they are at,” Sanchez said.
Since the reopening of the state from Covid-19 restrictions, the City of Sacramento has continued to move encampments almost daily according to Sanchez.
This past week several encampments have been cleared by the City.
Sanchez says this is in violation of and circumvents Martin v Boise (2018), offering no real-time services and taking their only forms of shelter.
“This continues to place these people in state-created dangers which include death,” Sanchez said. “The community continues to be misinformed that these people are being offered resources by the Department of Community Response (DCR) not only is in charge of homelessness and housing services but youth gang units and violence prevention.
The metrics that the city is providing do not state that people have been housed instead they state “positive outcomes.”
Sanchez said positive outcomes generally mean that unhoused people have been cycled through into another shelter.
“Before sweeps people are being offered business cards they are being told to call 211 which does not route you to any type of housing, real-time resources, or crisis intervention,” Sanchez said.
Resources and housing are slim to none for the 11,000 people on the streets who have tried to access services throughout the City and County of Sacramento.
Accessing housing referrals and services is not as unobtainable as it is in the City of Sacramento but the County of Sacramento is failing in the area of Public Health according to Sanchez.
“We have a Public Health crisis on our streets and we have asked the public health department to intervene and have been met with opposition,” Sanchez said.