The second Safe Ground location provides parking for up to 60 vehicles. Photo by Alex DeNuzzo (@awesomeuzzo on Instagram).

On Friday, April 9th, the city of Sacramento launched its second of two planned “Safe Ground” sites. The site is located off Front Street near the I-5/Highway 50 interchange. It provides space for around 60 vehicles to camp, allowing the unhoused to live in them free from police and out of the way of pedestrians. 

In addition to a place to sleep, the Safe Ground site also offers porta potties and access to resources—including case managers working on-site. Storage is also available for those who have stuff they want to keep but can’t fit in their car. 

The first Safe Ground location—which opened two weeks ago—is nearby in a parking lot off W and X St. It also offers a place for those without a car or trailer to camp, in addition to the other services provided at the Front Street location. 

Residents gain access to porta potties and other resources. Photo by Alex DeNuzzo (@awesomenuzzo on Instagram).

These efforts come as part of a historic effort by both CalTrans and the city to work with community advocates to safely and responsibly move the unhoused. CalTrans is in the beginning phases of a 500-million-dollar effort to rebuild and enhance Highway 50, starting at 3rd Street and ending near Howe Avenue. In order to start construction on the project, which includes adding a third bridge in the center of the two existing structures, those living under the freeway had to be kicked out.  

Rather than do so all at once with little warning, the city—led by Councilmember Katie Valenzuela—worked with CalTrans to modify their construction timeline and give people living under the freeway more time and flexibility in moving. Part of that effort included these new campsites. You can read more about that effort, and the nuances surrounding it, here.

Valenzuela—whose district includes the downtown core, where much of the homeless population lives—has been an advocate for the homeless even before running for office. 

“I’m so grateful for the community leaders, who have been pushing for safe camping and parking locations for years, for their tireless advocacy and support in standing these sites up,” she said. 

“These sites are not a final solution but are an important step in the right direction.”