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Caltrans “Temporarily Suspends” Homeless Camp Cleanups Near Highways Due to Coronavirus

CHP still visits Fresno homeless encampments if public safety is threatened.

By Liz Gonzalez
April 28, 2020 —

Tents and tarps line the fence along Tyler Avenue in Southeast Fresno, yards away from westbound lanes of Highway 180.

There’s also a red SUV parked nearby– it’s being used as housing, too.

Homeowners nearby say the camp has grown during the recent stay-at-home orders.

“There are possible drug sales going on,” the viewer, who did not want to be identified, wrote. “They act very violently, yelling and arguing with themselves when they are using and just walk up and down the street.”

And, as FOX26 News uncovered– not much is being done to stop them.

In an email, Matt Rocco with Caltrans Public Affairs says, “Due to concerns over COVID-19 and to limit its potential spread among the homeless population, Caltrans is temporarily suspending encampment cleanups unless there is an immediate safety concern, but will continue to work with local partners to move individuals into safer situations as available.”

FOX26 News asked last Wednesday, April 15th, what exactly defines an immediate safety concern.

We are still waiting for an answer.

The concerned viewer also says the CHP told them officers would not clear out the camp, either.

“The same protocols you may have seen two months ago are not the same you would have seen today, just because of our safety concerns/health concerns,” says Officer Mike Salas, Public Information Officer with California Highway Patrol.

Salas says officers are still showing up at encampments– especially if there’s a clear safety threat, such as drug sales or fighting.

“There have been instances where these encampments have been moved,” Salas says.

He says Caltrans used to post 72-hour notices to clear out camps, and then return with officers to do the job.

“With them out of the equation, Highway Patrol will actively go and make contact on a case by case basis,” Salas says.

There are still options where homeless people can turn for help.

“Oh yes, there’s space,” says Matthew Dildine, CEO of the Fresno Rescue Mission.

With the coronavirus outbreak, Dildine says clients are being told they must shelter in place, unless they have a job considered essential, need to go to a medical appointment or to pick up medications.

“I wouldn’t want a bunch of people staying here who will be coming and going and coming and going,” Dildine says. “The last thing we want to do is one person gets sick and transmits to others in the community and then it shuts us down.”

Dildine adds, “As much as I want that guy normally, as much as I want to change his life, I really want people to shelter in place.”

Salas says the CHP has been getting help from other agencies to clear some encampments when there’s a clear danger.

He encouraged our viewer– and others– to keep calling for help.

This article courtesy of FOX26NEWS


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