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Advocates Say Forcing Homeless to Scatter Delays Treatment

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homeless advocates are worried the eviction of 150 people from a north Sacramento campground will delay treatment for the homeless who are metally ill.  

The homeless say they keep getting the bums rush to keep moving.

Chris Moffett is riding a bike and towing some of his belongings in a make-shift trailer.  He's headed across the American river.  Moffett complains the park rangers and the police keep pushing the homeless into each other's jurisdictions.

MOFFETT: "They told us to come here…the (park) rangers.  When everybody came over here, the police said, "Oh no no.  We can't have it.  It's too many tents." So what are we supposed to do?  Tthe rangers are telling us to go one place, the police are telling….When I first became homeless, I slept downtown.  The police said, "Go to the woods.  Go to the river."

About 150 of the city's nearly thousand homeless were in the 10th Street campsite.  Joan Burke with Loaves and Fishes says many are mentally ill. She says the campground was relatively stable, and now she worries about one woman in particular who is unable to care for herself.

BURKE: "There is help in Sacramento for someone who is mentally ill. But it takes time to build up her trust.    "It takes time to connect to services and figure out what will work for her.  But, it can be done.  If we had a Safe Ground, that's what we'd be doing."

Burke says funding for homeless housing may dry up relatively quickly due to the California Supreme Court's decision to allow the state to use local redevelopment funds to help balance the state budget.
Cleanup crews estimate they hauled more than eight tons of trash away from the10th Street site. Many people are planning to make camp near the Boy Scouts' Camp Pollock off of Northgate Boulevard.
About a dozen tents have already been pitched within a mile of the 10th street site.  The homeless say the services like Loaves and Fishes and Salvation Army make the area a convenient place to camp. 
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