Sacramento, CA

CIty of Sacramento clears three homeless encampments in one week, more planned

Robert J Hansen

Proud Boys working with cleanup crew contracted by Sacramento County

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Sacramento Police telling people at Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks they had five minutes to leave on Monday, April 11, 2022.(Courtesy of Black Zebra Impact Team)

Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen

Since Monday, the City of Sacramento has removed at least three homeless encampments as documented by the Black Zebra Impact Team (BZIT).

Homeless residents have been displaced at Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks, Lexington Avenue, and near Roseville Road and Marconi Avenue

Colfax Street sweep coming

An encampment at Colfax Street and El Camino Avenue has been cited by the City and scheduled for removal on Monday.

Joseph Green has lived in his RV on Colfax Street for about a month and has been made to move two other times since December.

About 50 other people also live on Colfax Street.

“They just came through yesterday and tagged us so now we have four days to move,” Greene said in a phone interview.

Green is willing to do whatever it takes to get off the street but has never been given an opportunity since being released from prison in 2018.

“I haven’t talked to nobody. They haven’t even offered me a hotel voucher,” Green said. “I still haven’t heard anything from anyone.”

Green said he is trying to figure out where he is going to move his trailer next but has yet to find someplace.

Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks

Sacramento Police accompanied Forensiclean, a biohazard and waste management company, to the homeless encampment at Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard that was removed on Monday.

This happened in the rain and at least six tents were destroyed.

Bulldozers and several employees were throwing away tents and other possessions even as one woman was trying to retrieve what she could from the pile cleanup crews created.

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A woman trying to salvage her possessions as Forensiclean crewmen discard tents and other belongings on Monday, April 15, 2022.(Courtesy of Black Zebra Impact Team)

Forensiclean owner, Dawn McGuire, said the area is private property and is going to be fenced off. She also reminded camera crews that camping on private property is illegal.

A BZIT member asked McGuire where the people will go.

“There are lots of opportunities but I don't know where they’re going to go,” McGuire said. “That’s not my responsibility.”

Forensiclean was awarded a contract by Sacramento County last December for roughly $3.8 million for homeless refuse and sanitation station cleanup to take place from January 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

The encampment near the intersection of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard has been the focus of significant and ongoing work by both the City’s Department of Community Response (DCR) and the County’s Department of Human Assistance (DHA), according to Assistant City Manager Chris Conlin.

Tensions have risen at the location beginning in January when the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office sent surveys to businesses and homeowners in the area asking them to document crimes taking place at the camp.

“Representatives from the City, the County, and several community-based organizations have visited this site dozens of times over the past several months to provide outreach and offer services to the approximately 30 people camping there,” Conlin said in a statement.

DCR, DHA, and County behavioral support specialists visited the site on March 24. Individuals were offered all resources and services available at that time.

“This included available shelter space, mental health and substance use disorder assessments, ID vouchers, connections to general assistance, CalFresh, and other resources,” Conlin said.

The Bee reported that DCR did not have any available bed space for a woman at Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue on Monday.

DCR and DHA representatives returned to the site on April 6, again offering shelter alternatives, and access to various programs, and other resources according to Conlin.

Sacramento Homeless Union President Crystal Sanchez said that some people were told they could go to the Miller Park safe ground where people are not allowed to take most of their possessions.

“They told them they could go to Miller Park where there are 60 tents,” Sanchez said.

According to Conlin, DCR has visited this encampment approximately 60 times.

“DCR along with our Sacramento County counterparts will continue to communicate to those camping there not only about available services but also about a change in status with this property,” Conlin said.

The City recently was approached by a local group that has entered into a lease agreement with this group and anticipates transferring the property to them by mid-April after certain requirements are met.

The lease agreement is conditioned on repairing damage to the City’s water, irrigation and sewer systems and fencing the property. Because this work will involve heavy equipment, our Public Works Department will need to designate the property as a work zone and require the property to be vacated for safety reasons. This repair work is set to begin on April 11.

Per the lease, the city agreed to install a 6-foot high iron fence with locks on the property.

The lease was signed by Hector Barron, assistant city manager; Gerald Hicks, supervising deputy city attorney; and Dave Mercer, president of the Howe/Fair Oaks Property Owners Association according to reporting by The Bee.

Doug Elmets, a spokesman for the association, said the group of property owners will not allow the homeless back on the property.

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Forensiclean employee wearing Proud Boy emblem at homeless camp removal on Monday, April 11, 2022.(Courtesy of Black Zebra Impact Team)

Proud Boys

During the sweep, the BZIT observed a Forensiclean worker who had a 1776 emblem, with guns and a yellow American flag under his Forensiclean vest. 

Towards the end of the sweep, a hangtown proud boy showed up thanking Foreseniclean for their work. 

The Foresencilean worker who had the 1776 shirt was heard saying, "that's my boy" to the proud boy before leaving with a trailer full of unhoused belongings. 

Despite the heavy police presence, the proud boy was allowed to pull out mace and a switchblade on unhoused advocates and organizers that were responding to the sweep according to the BZIT.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA
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