Homeless campers forced to move say shelters not an option

9:56 AM, Dec 29, 2011   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - More than 150 homeless people, who have been living in a tent encampment in downtown Sacramento, were told to leave Wednesday afternoon.

Sacramento police officers began giving the order Wednesday morning to the campers living along the south side of the American River levee on N. 10th Street and 12 th Street bridge.

City ordinance states no one can camp on property for more than 24 hours at a time. Police officers on site Wednesday said the campers had until 2 p.m. to clear out.

"We have nowhere else to go," homeless camper Lisa Doss said. "Where are we supposed to go. They don't help us."

Police said the campers had plenty of warning and stressed it is illegal to camp on public property.

Two people refused to leave; one man was cited then released, the other man was taken to jail.

"I am taking a stand," camper Brother Eliah said. "The governor and mayor can change this. I can handle this, but what about the children. I used to be a carpenter. Work dried up."'

Loaves & Fishes charity worker Garren Bratcher was at the site helping homeless campers move, but said there really wasn't any other place for them to go.

"I refer people to shelters, but there are no options now. The shelters are full," Bratcher said.

"I'm helping them move to a sidewalk by the Mission, a storage shed, under the parkway, or in a doorway somewhere."

Trinity Church on Capitol Avenue was open Wednesday night as an emergency shelter, but could only house 75 people and wouldn't be available any other night of the week.

The Union Gospel Mission on Bannon Street had no available beds, but did open a Warming Center with hot coffee between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Other homeless campers said shelters are not options for them, since the time schedules or other rules prevented them from entering.

"I can't go to a shelter, because it'll conflict with my schooling," full-time Sacramento City College student Jordan Davis said. "The scheduling for sign-ups is tedius and certain programs you have to attend, if you miss one, they'll kick you out."

Another homeless woman refuses to give up her pet dog she's had for 10 years to enter a shelter.

"Can you give up your best friend? My dogs are all I have," said the woman who didn't want to be identified, because she works part-time in an office.

"There's no shelters you can go to with dogs."

Many homeless campers forced out of the American River park said they'll continue to be homeless outdoors, just in another part of town.

"It's illegal to be homeless," said Davis. "You're not supposed to be homeless. But if you want to make it on your own, you have to be."


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