Moving Day for Sacramento "Tent City" Residents

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 13, 2009
On Monday, police officers handed out flyers telling residents to leave within 48 hours.  Construction crews began marking boundaries for a new fence to be built later this week.  And homeless advocates brought trucks by to help some residents move.
Robert Booker doesn’t want to, but he’s packing his tent.  It’s Moving Day for Booker and some other tent city residents – but they’re not moving very far.
Booker: “The two trees – the big ones – and then see that big radio tower?” 
He points to the east, maybe a couple football fields down the river – and just beyond the property line the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District plans to fence off later this week.
Booker: “Between those two is a clearing right there, and that’s where we’re moving.”
Ben: “You’re basically moving the minimum distance to get off the property.”
Booker: “Exactly.  Because the services are over here – Loaves and Fishes, Salvation Army.  So the further you get away from it, the harder it is to use the services.”
Booker walks over to a nearby pickup truck and starts loading it up.  The truck belongs to Garren Bratcher, who works at the nearby Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen.  He’s been driving back and forth from the old campsite to the new one all morning long. 
Bratcher: “I brought my pickup, and Loaves and Fishes paid for the gasoline, and just helping people move.  If they need assistance, they can put their stuff in my truck and I’ll take them wherever they want to go.” 
But down at the new site, there’s a problem.
Gigi: “Date of 4-13-09, from the police department of Sacramento.  It is unlawful to camp in the city of Sacramento …”
A homeless woman named Gigi holds up a flyer she just got from an officer.
Gigi: “This location is scheduled for immediate cleanup by the Sacramento Police Department.  Any items not removed will be considered abandoned and disposed of accordingly.”
The flyer gives residents until Wednesday to move to a shelter.  Local officials are extending the winter shelter at Cal Expo through July 1st.  And they’re trying to place tent city residents into permanent leases at low-income apartments.  But neither of those will be enough for everyone at the tent city.  Here’s a woman named Carol:
Carol: “It’s gonna be a standoff.  It’s gonna be a standdown here.  We’re probably gonna go to jail, some of us.”
Ben: “So are you gonna move?”
Carol: “No.  No.  I’m gonna be one of the ones who do a standdown out here.”
But construction workers began marking the boundaries of SMUD’s property Monday.  On Thursday, city officials say, they’ll send people in to, quote – “clean up.”  They believe tent city residents will have moved by then – like they have before when the city has asked them to leave.