Sacramento moving homeless from tent city

/ Source: The Associated Press

Sacramento officials on Monday began the process of dismantling an encampment of homeless people that had put California's capital in the international spotlight.

Police officers handed notices to about 150 people who live in the so-called tent city about one mile northeast of the state Capitol, giving a Wednesday deadline to clear the site.

The city was offering spaces at a shelter at the state fairgrounds operated by Volunteers of America or through longer-term housing unit, but many don't want to leave or go to the shelter, where they will have to abide by certain rules. Some have moved their tents to another location.

"Clearly the bulk of the people are still outside," said Tim Brown, director of city council project 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Sacramento County. "Some of the residents of the community were threatening civil disobedience when push comes to shove later this week. They seem to have backed off on that."

What if people won't leave?
Sacramento officials are not sure what strategy they will pursue if some campers ignore Wednesday's deadline, city spokeswoman Wendy Klock-Johnson said.

"We're still discussing that with the chief of police," she said. "Our goal is to get these people the help that they need to take advantage of the programs that are available."

The camp gained notoriety after it was featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Media reports often portrayed it as holding hundreds of people and many victims of the recession, but city homeless advocates said people have congregated there for years because of its proximity to a food bank.

The encampment land is owned by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which wants to use it and is starting to build a fence around it.

The media attention has sparked proposals to deal with the city's chronic homeless, including plans to spend $1 million this year to create temporary shelters and provide types of permanent housing.