Homeless encampments moving to private land

FRESNO, Calif.

Many of the homeless have camped out along a canal bank near Highway 180 for several months but there's one problem, they're on private property and the owner handed out eviction notices saying he wanted them out today.

"This is my humble home, be it as it is," said Dannie Palmer. Palmer has been living inside a tent along a Central Fresno canal with dozens of other homeless. He moved in last month and is now being kicked out. "It's just a cycle, as soon as we get someplace, get comfortable, the owner comes along and tells you it's time to go," said Palmer.

Many of the homeless set up camp on this private property after the city cleared them out of Downtown encampments last year. But the property owner gave the trespassers eviction notices last week. "You are trespassing on private property. You must remove yourself and your possessions on or before March 28th," read the notice.

Nancy Waidtlow is a homeless advocate and is pleading with the owner to let them stay because they have nowhere else to go. "I think he could work with the people here. They are very interested in having a peaceful life here and being left alone," said Waidtlow.

The encampment is a hazard for some of the nearby tenants. The owner of Velarde's Boxing Gym says he worries about the safety of the young boxers who routinely train outside the facility.

The owner of a towing company located across from the gym says the camp is an eyesore. "They keep bringing more and more stuff to their sites that they pick up each day and then it makes it into a dump instead of a living area," said Ed Mason, owner of Bauer's Auto Towing.

Despite the group's efforts to stay, the owner has started building a fence to enclose the entire property. But before it can be completed, the homeless need to leave. "I can understand a lot of the reasons as to why - both health and safety - but as the sign says behind my tent, if they're not offering an alternative for these people to go someplace, where they can be safe, where can they go," asked Palmer.

City officials say this is a growing problem and are trying to do more outreach to help the homeless. The owner of the gym told Action News he's willing to give the homeless several more days to collect their belongings before he has them removed.

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