Merced homeless camps shut down

FRESNO, Calif.

The homeless were forced to leave one large encampment off Santa Fe drive near Highway 59 and two smaller camps near 16th Street and Auto Center Drive.

Several police officers provided security during the move, while social services workers were on hand to help the homeless find new places to stay.

City officials say the council passed the no camping ordinance because of public safety concerns. They say waste from the camps ends up in water used for irrigation.

They're also concerned about flooding and fires in those areas. But the homeless argue they were not causing any problems and should have been left alone.

"Honestly, they're good people. It's not what you're seeing...it's probably safer than your neighborhood," Monica Villa said.

"This is not a humanitarian...services available," Mike Conway said.

City officials say the D Street shelter and the Rescue Mission are helping house those who were moved from their camps Thursday.

And Sierra Presbyterian Church has offered its entire property for those who want to continue to camp outdoors.

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