City Claims Success in Efforts to Close Tent City
CPR photo/Ben Adler
Police had asked the homeless campers to move no later than Thursday. Almost all have packed up and left, and police have neither cited nor arrested anyone so far. But tent city residents say the city isn’t solving the problem.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The original tent city site was filled with people Thursday, but not the more than one hundred campers who used to live there. Dozens of county jail inmates on work release picked up trash and contractors started drilling holes for fence posts.
The campers themselves have mostly scattered – some to shelters, others to where they won’t be found. The few dozen who remained held out hope a few hundred yards down the river … where they were joined by homeless advocates in a prayer circle.
Prayer Circle: “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The advocates promised to hold vigil with the campers until they got arrested. But as the day wore on, most of the campers, like Dave Chapman, grudgingly decided to move.
Chapman: “Pack a few things up and go across the river somewhere else and just hide like they want us to. They don’t want us seen – they want us hidden out of view. They don’t care nothing about us as long as they don’t have to see us. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.”
Assistant city manager Cassandra Jennings points to the temporary and permanent housing options officials have come up with, and calls them “a short-term solution to an immediate need.” She thinks the city’s plans to close down the tent city have gone well.
Jennings: “We knew we didn’t have the ability to solve the whole problem, but we’re I think in much better shape than we were even a month ago, and I think for that we’re furthering all the efforts to end homelessness.”
Whether they agreed with the city or not, campers like Daniel Gonzalez felt they had no choice but to leave. So they packed – with help from advocates, police officers and even Southern California teenagers on a spring break Church mission.
Gonzalez: “I appreciate every little inch of help.”
Ben: “Did you expect this?”
Gonzalez: “Not as many people – but I’m very happy and grateful that everybody did show up.”
Cop: “Hey, you ready?”
Cop: “Let’s do it.”
Gonzalez and a police officer hop in a city truck, and head off to a storage space. Gonzalez himself did not know where he’d spend the night.