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Caltrans helps clean up homeless camps in California

Caltrans is struggling to keep up with the number of homeless camps popping up on its properties and is seeking millions of dollars to clean them up.

California Department of Transportation Demanding $5.8 million Expand newly established homeless and encampment offices. In a proposal to the state Treasury Department, the agency said the funds would be used to hire his 10 employees for a new “homeless solutions team.”

The additional funding will also add 10 coordinators to the current 20-member Caltrans team tasked with overseeing the removal of right-of-way encampments.

“Caltrans cannot solve the homeless problem. But it is clear that the Ministry cannot ignore the impact this humanitarian crisis is having on people experiencing homelessness, travelers and transportation networks,” the budget request said. I’m here.

Sharon Tendervis (right) moves a tent from a homeless camp demolished by Caltrans and G Street in Midtown Sacramento on October 29, 2021. around the state.Hector Amezqua hamezcua@sacbee.com

Caltrans wipes out thousands of encampments

Agency Request Comes As California faces a $22.5 billion budget shortfall This can make securing additional dollars more difficult.

Clearing the camp was a priority for Governor Gavin Newsom. Especially since he presides over a historic budget surplus. But this time, it’s proposing broad cuts and spending deferrals to make up for the state’s budget shortfalls.

Caltrans reports it is on pace to close 1,200 campsites this fiscal year. That’s a nearly 500% increase from last year’s 269. But that’s just a fraction of his more than 5,000 encampments on that right-of-way, officials report.

Officials say the encampment will damage the state’s transportation infrastructure and pose a safety hazard for the homeless residents who live there. We estimate that they have made emergency repairs to the facility.

Over 100 fires in 2022 at large camps in Oakland’s Bay Area. Officials said one resulted in a fatality and another fire threatened to seriously damage he one of the city’s major highway interchanges.Caltrans takes a phased approach close and clean A section of that encampment — called Wood Street — but dozens of holdouts still live there in an ongoing legal battle.

Caltrans officials say they cannot keep up with the speed at which the encampment is being developed on its property. The agency said additional funding means less damage to the state’s transportation network, closure of camps that connect homeless residents with social services, and stronger partnerships with local leaders and service providers. I got

Caltrans workers will clear a homeless camp on 29th and G Streets near the Capital City Freeway in midtown Sacramento in October 2021. The agency is asking him for more than $5 million to clear more camps across the state.Hector Amezqua hamezcua@sacbee.com

Cities say they need more homeless resources

Caltrans plans to place new jobs statewide based on areas of greatest need. Los Angeles gets five. Oakland has four, San Diego has three, San Luis Obispo, Stockton, Marysville/Sacramento, and San Bernardino has two.

Auckland city assistant city administrator Latonda Simmons welcomed the potential new resource, but the city also needs more state funding to boost temporary housing for people in the encampment. said it was.

“Without expanding affordable housing opportunities with sustainable emergency shelters, camp closures will only perpetuate displacement, fulfilling our mission to house the homeless,” Simmons said in an email. “We know everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live, and ultimately the solution to homelessness is housing.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said he fully supports Caltrans’ demands.

“And we need more cooperation than ever before between Caltrans, counties and cities to provide housing and services to keep people out of these encampments for good,” Steinberg said. “voluntarily at first, involuntarily when necessary”

Steinberg also said he was in favor of pushing for Newsom. More results and accountability From local agencies that receive state homeless funds. He said cities and counties need to do “whatever it takes to include and care for these people,” including mental health outreach.

“The governor’s plea … is really the same plea I’ve heard from my city residents: ‘Please clear these camps,'” Steinberg said. “And it is essential. How we do it is just as important. It means you have to.”

Homeless resident Neilly covers mirrors and other belongings as his camp on 29th and G Streets in midtown Sacramento is cleared by Caltrans in October 2021. Authorities are asking him for more than $5 million to clear more camps in the state.Hector Amezqua hamezcua@sacbee.com

Advocates Against Caltrans Cleanup

Homeless advocates against camp eviction say cities and institutions like Caltrans waste millions of dollars simply moving unhoused people from one area to another. They say this often makes it more difficult for service providers to find people who need assistance.

Caltrans in 2021 Cleaned up a homeless camp Located on 29th Street between F and H Streets in Midtown Sacramento, many of the homeless who live there are sent one block north. The agency posted a notice in advance about settling at the camp, but there was a phone number for the hotel’s voucher referral line that was cut off.

Cleanup has also become dangerous for some non-residents. Caltrans workers clearing a homeless camp in Modesto with heavy machinery in 2018 beat a sleeping woman to death.

DF Caltransdeath 1.JPG
Caltrans and law enforcement are at the scene Wednesday morning, August 1, 2018, behind the American Budget Inn on the 700 block of Kansas Avenue in Modesto, Calif. A machine during the cleaning of a homeless camp.Deek Farrow jfarrow@modbee.com

In 2021, the agency worked with the City of Sacramento to open the Safe Ground site. Near 6th and W Streets Where homeless residents can go during a highway expansion project. Although that site is now closed, Caltrans “has properties available for lease for emergency shelters available to the city, including secure parking,” agency spokesman Edward Barrera said in an email. said in

Sacramento’s 2021 Comprehensive Location Plan to Address Homelessness Contains 5 Caltrans properties Under the WX highway with 200 tiny houses.but the city agreed to drop the plan Using the Site after a resident sued Sacramento for allegedly violating the California Environmental Quality Act.

Barrera did not say whether Caltrans has future plans to remove more Sacramento camps. However, he noted that authorities provided 48 hours advance notice for cleaning, “[functioning]to notify social service providers of the estimated closing time and date, and that those providers are experiencing homelessness.” We will be able to conduct outreach to connect people to essential services and available shelter,” said /housing options.

However, in places like Sacramento, local authorities prohibit overnight camping along the American River Parkway or near schools. Cleaning up the camp means that Caltrans’ property is just one of the places the homeless can’t go. Said Bob Arlenbush, executive director of the Sacramento Area Coalition to End Homelessness, said:

All this does is move homeless neighbors from one place to another without actually providing the services they desperately need. ” Arlenbush said. “If they feel they have to move people for safety reasons, they should provide somewhere to go and a service.”

Articles related to Sacramento Bee

Maggie Angst covers California politics and Governor Gavin Newsom on The Sacramento Bee. Before she joined The Bee’s Capitol Bureau, she worked for Mercury News and she worked for the East Bay Times, covering San Jose City Hall, and then she wrote corporate stories for the breaking news team.

Lindsay Holden serves the California State Legislature in Sacramento Bee. She previously reported on housing and local government for the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Lindsey started her career with her Rockford Register Star in Illinois. A native of California, raised in the Midwest, she has degrees from DePaul University and Northwestern University.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article271118362.html Caltrans helps clean up homeless camps in California

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