Homeless people and advocates spent Monday picking up trash in an effort to halt eviction proceedings in Sacramento. They say more than 40 tent sites on a vacant lot along Stockton Boulevard near Fruitridge Road are in danger of being cleared.
As people piled cardboard and rotting food into shopping carts, crews from a fence company augured holes in the ground along Stockton Boulevard in preparations for a new fence.
Palmer Overstreet says he has been homeless for four years. He also says a lot of the trash isn't from the homeless.
"I'm helping get all of this trash up in to the bins they provided,” Overstreet says, “because people come here and dump their garbage out here a lot. It kind of made a mess out here for us."
The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency hopes to build affordable housing on the site and is using the Sacramento Sheriff's Department to clear the property. Some people here say they were promised they could stay a little longer if they kept the lot clean.
Let Buitron is a volunteer and says some of the messages have been mixed.
"We're trying to find solutions: whether we need to come down here with U-Hauls, how many more days, how many more hours, are they moving, aren't they moving, you know what I mean?” she asked. “That's what we're doing right now."
The sheriff's department says it has not received many calls for service, but has received complaints from nearby businesses. Department spokesman Shaun Hampton says the land will be cleared in stages.
"It will be occurring in phases but should be completed within a couple months. We have advised the homeless several times and will continue before the big move,” Hampton says. “When we do the big push, we will be partnering with several homeless advocates and other homeless services."
Hampton says the department is working with the Department of Human Assistance, Sacramento Self Help Housing, Veteran Services and ELICA Health Service. It's also reached out to Mental Health Services, homeless navigators for the county and Sacramento Steps Forward.
Advocates say they will sue if people are evicted without a place to go. They also have posted videos on Facebook with testimonials from homeless people and advocates who say the homeless living outside City Hall been targeted by Sacramento Police.
Last week, Mayor Darrell Steinberg apologized for one incident. Sacramento Police Sergeant Vance Chandler says the complaints have merit.
“There have been several incidents in the last few weeks that we have enforced the city ordinance in cold weather,” Chandler says, referring to a prohibition against public gatherings at City Hall between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
But he says officers have been ordered to stop.
“We are not enforcing that ordinance as of January 25,” Chandler says.
As of 5:30 p.m. Monday, SHRA had not responded to requests for comment.