Homeless Camp Cleared Out in Visalia

November 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Dozens of homeless people were forced to move. The people living in tents near the Saint Johns River had thirty days to move out after the property owner wanted them removed.Sheriff's deputies and cleanup crews were out until late Monday afternoon picking up belongings that were left behind by people and getting rid of any garbage. Monday's eviction of homeless people at the Saint John's River Bed ends years of the homeless setting up tents at the location.

Property owners hammered down new "No Trespassing" signs put up new fencing and installed new chains to block people from coming onto the north side of the St. John's River in Visalia. Sheriff's deputies hauled away mattresses and other belongings that dozens of homeless people had left behind near the St. John's River Bed.

Homeless woman: "Everything I could yes, the only thing I wasn't able to get was my mattress and one bike but everything we got. They took some of my stuff to storage and this is what they wouldn't take."

This woman and her son tried to gather up as many belongings as they could before making the three mile trip to Divisadero Street where her cousin lives. She's upset that after years of people living in tents near the St. John's River Bed, the property owner is evicting them.

Homeless woman: "That's what makes me the most sick I mean people in society don't want to see the homeless yet they don't want to help. That's what makes me really sick at heart."

At 6:00 a.m. Monday morning, sheriff's deputies advised the remaining people living at the river bed they had until 9:00 a.m. to remove their belongings and find another place to live.

Chris Douglass with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office said, "We started cleanup on those campsites and we located 17 different stations that needed to be cleaned up."

Legal aid and representatives from the Fresno office of the American Civil Liberties Union showed up to make sure the transition went smoothly.

The sheriff's office does have a significant amount of people's belongings that were left at the site. People will have about 30 days to pick up their stuff ... at sheriff's headquarters on Burrel Avenue in Visalia.



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