SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Land Park community is turning to Facebook to fight the area’s homeless problem, but homeless advocates call it harassment, not help.
Every morning Ramona Russell walks her neighborhood for fresh air, and new evidence of a homeless problem she says is hijacking her affluent land park community.
“Because our neighborhood was being greatly ignored and we were not getting the response we needed in this vast increase of problem we’re having, I designed a strategy to be the squeaky wheel,” she said.
Russell is the organizer of “Land Park Society,” a private 600-member Facebook group, consisting of neighbors acting as detectives. They post pictures of transients and trash; from discarded syringes hiding in bushes along popular shopping centers and public restrooms, to people and their possessions sprawled on sidewalks.
“Feces, things considered a great public health hazard,” she said.
Each post is tagged with city officials and law enforcement, to spur a response.
“We report and report and report until that problem is gone,” she said.
But in a year where Sacramento saw a 30 percent increase in homelessness according to a recent report, advocates say the photos humiliate the homeless instead of helping them.
“I don’t know that it’s their place to do something about this issue on that kind of level. You know, maybe be more kind. Maybe go out and offer from a personal level, you know? What can I do to help you today?,” said Homeless Advocate Katlyn Brown.
“They become physical violent they throw things break things,” Michael Sampino.
Michael Sampino, owner of the popular Italian restaurant Sampino’s on Broadway, says he’s compassionate but also on constant defense.
“You have $800,000 homes, but you have 100 people on average per every three blocks camped up shooting up drugs going into Land Park, stealing then going back into their little area,” he said.
Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen who represents this area didn’t return a call for the story.
He told The Sacramento Bee “It’s great to see citizen activism, but we need to channel it into productive problem-solving.”
Neighbors say that’s not their responsibility.