Cleanup Of Gateway Homeless Encampment Begins Friday

Apr 30, 2019

Eviction notices have been posted at the homeless camp behind Gateway Plaza in Santa Cruz. This comes after a federal judge says the city can move forward with its cleanup plans.

Homeless people living at Gateway Encampment have until Friday morning to move out. That’s when the city plans to start the cleanup.

The city will store some personal items left behind so people can get them later; items like identification, purses or backpacks. Anything left behind that’s soiled or contaminated will be thrown out.

Assistant City Manager Tina Shull says the city may need to use heavy equipment to move everything that has accumulated there.   

“We have an accumulation of trash, an accumulation of debris. We have vector issues with rats that are taking residence there. There is human waste. There is medical waste. There's drug waste onsite. And so it is currently unsafe. So, we need to just clear everything out and then keep it secured so it doesn't continue,” Shull says.

A group of homeless people living at the camp sued to stop the closure and prevent the cleanup. A judge ultimately ruled in favor of the city.

Homeless rights advocate Keith McHenry, Co-founder of Food Not Bombs, is now worried about the safety of the homeless who may disperse into the streets.

“It is much more dangerous to just live by yourself in a doorway than it is to live in a group that is willing to take care of one another,” McHenry says.

The city will help people find alternative shelter, like at a new Salvation Army tent camp on River Street. The camp will be open through June.   

McHenry says there’s not enough room for everyone. So, the homeless plan to create their own new camp.

“We want our camp to be safe and we want it to be humane and we will be organizing that ourselves,” says McHenry.

People who do not leave Gateway Encampment by Friday could be cited or arrested.