California Cities Deal with Increased Homeless Camps

Tent Cities Cause Tension Between Communities and Government

The specter of homeless encampments expanding across the downtown streets of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco – bringing with them a public health crisis – has one southern California community taking tough action to dismantle a two-mile-long camp just a short drive from Disneyland.

In a departure from the approach taken by other local governments in the state, officials in Orange County, California, have started to clear out the camp by moving occupants and hauling away literally tons of trash and hazardous waste.  

According to a report by Fox News, trash trucks and contractors in hazmat gear have descended on the camp and so far removed 250 tons of trash, 1,100 pounds of human waste, and 5,000 hypodermic needles.

For those being evicted, mediation with a U.S. District Court judge offered the choice of a bed in a shelter or a month-long motel voucher, medical aid, drug treatment, job training, storage for their belongings, and housing for pets at the county animal shelter.

So far, 544 people have been moved to shelters and motel rooms and approximately 100 remain at the camp. Crews counted 207 tents, but it is unclear if they are occupied.

Todd Spitzer of the Orange County Board of Supervisors blames the problem on two issues: (1) legislation signed by California Governor Jerry Brown over the past several years that has eroded the penalties for drug use, possession, and petty crimes to where police often don’t bother making arrests; and (2) the change in a law so that treatment is no longer forced for drug abuse or mental health issues.

This week Spitzer wrote a letter to Brown urging him to declare a state of emergency over the homelessness issue and reverse previous forced-treatment laws.

Article Source: Fox News