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‘It’s a safety concern’: Homeless encampments expand into Sacramento streets, neighbors say more needs to be done

By Velena Jones

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    SACRAMENTO (KOVR) — Trash, shopping carts and suitcases taking over downtown Sacramento is nothing new, but some residents say the city isn’t doing enough to address the problem.

CBS13 spoke to a woman who lives on 13th Street and did not want to be identified. She said she can see it all from her front porch.

“It’s a safety concern,” the woman said.

She explains it has gotten so bad that trash is pouring into the streets and making it hard to park or walk on the sidewalk.

“The biggest concern is the trash situation. It’s just a lot. It seems like it’s accumulating day by day,” she explained.

Neighbor Victoria Burke said she’s called the city’s 311 service to report fires being started at the camp but never saw action.

“Obviously, we want to feel like when we are calling and putting a call in that there is going to be a response made, especially when it has to do with safety concerns,” Burke explained.

A woman named Tammy lives at the homeless encampment neighbors are concerned about. She has called the street her home for more than a month after seven years of being homeless.

“We are just out here surviving,” explained Tammy. “We’ve had control fires in a tin can, just little ones.”

So just how long does it take to address encampment concerns? The city says it can take up to a couple of days after dispatch. After a call is dispatched, the city has a contract with a company to pick up debris. The Department of Community Response works to find individuals shelter and resources, and if there is resistance to move items, it could be referred to code enforcement or police.

“Customers don’t want to deal with all that,” explained business owner Michael Gouddou.

Gouddou owns Bear Dive Bar where there was a fire on the patio next to his business. He claims it took the city three weeks to take action after he called in a complaint.

“I really wish the problem would be resolved in the bigger picture instead of moving them from corner to corner,” he said.

It’s a call for help frustrated neighbors feel isn’t being answered soon enough.

“I guess we will just continue to make the calls,” explained Burke. “Not only to keep our neighborhood safe and clean but also get them the help that they need.”

The Department of Community Response said they have received two reports into 311 in the last 90 days related to the encampment. The city plans to send a cleaning crew as soon as possible. They say 311 is still the best tool to use to report non-criminal concerns related to homeless encampments.

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