Measure O: What is it and what can we expect?

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What is Measure O?

This past November 8th, voters in the City of Sacramento passed Measure O (officially, the Emergency Shelter and Enforcement Act of 2022) by a margin of more than 5,000 votes.1 Measure O requires the City to identify and authorize emergency shelter spaces to house currently homeless persons. Before Measure O, the City had no such requirement.

How does Measure O’s shelter space requirement work?

The Measure O shelter space requirement works as a multi-step formula: first, the City must identify enough shelter spaces to house at least 12% of the estimated number of unsheltered homeless persons in the City.2 Based on current estimates, that number is about 600 shelter spaces. Once these spaces are identified, the City must report that finding, and authorize the spaces for use to provide much needed housing for homeless persons. Measure O directs the City to spread these shelter spaces throughout the City, to avoid overconcentration in any particular area.3

As those 600 or so spaces start to fill up, Measure O places a new requirement on the City. Specifically, once that first round of shelter spaces hits 60% capacity, the City must go back and identify and authorize more new shelter spaces—again, enough to house 12% of all homeless persons in the City—within 30 days. This process will repeat until the City has identified and authorized enough shelter spaces to house at least 60% of all homeless persons in the City. By current estimates, that would require a total of about 3,000 beds.

So how much progress has the City made yet?

The first crucial step has already been reached. Generally, counties are responsible, and have funding for, crucial support services such as mental health services, substance abuse services, clinical outreach and case management, and child welfare services. So Measure O required the City of Sacramento and Sacramento County to reach a legally binding partnership agreement that would guarantee County support in those four aforementioned areas.4

On December 6, 2022, exactly four weeks after Measure O passed, the City and County reached that landmark agreement (details of which can be found here5).6

Why is that partnership agreement so important to implementing Measure O?

Beyond guaranteeing necessary funding and support from the County to help solve the City of Sacramento’s homelessness crisis, the date of the partnership agreement (December 6, 2022) serves as the “effective date” that Measure O’s deadlines are based upon.7 For example, Measure O requires the City Manager to identify and authorize the first round of shelter spaces within 90 days of the effective date.8 And Measure O contains a private right of action, allowing Sacramento residents to enforce some of its terms, that begins 180 days after the effective date.9

So should we be hearing about those identified and authorized shelter spaces soon?

Yes. Measure O requires the City Manager to report his progress in finding and authorizing shelter spaces to the City Council every 30 days.10 These Council meetings are open to the public, available online, and recorded for later viewing.

Below are excerpts from the March 21st City Council meeting and the March 28th County Board meeting, in which the Metro Chamber expressed our interest in how Measure O will be implemented.

Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Meeting – March 28, 2023
Caption: City of Sacramento Council Meeting – March 21, 2023

Notes and references

  3. See Chapter 12.100.020 of Measure O
  4. See Section 4 of Measure O
  7. See Section 4(B) of Measure O
  8. See Chapter 12.100.020(A) of Measure O
  9. See Chapter 12.100.050(A) of Measure O
  10. See Chapter 12.100.020(G) of Measure O

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