Friday, January 25, 2008

Homeless Camping

It is dangerous for the homeless and as we noted in our 2005 report on the Lower Reach area of the Parkway where most of the camping by the homeless occurs and where two men died this year, that danger can be reduced substantially through using the Housing First approach (which Sacramento has partially adopted) and police sweeps accompanied by homeless service organizations to mandate help for those who cannot help themselves.

Winter weather, meaner streets plague homeless
In recent weeks, at least six have died due to cold, attacks or accidents.
By Ryan Lillis -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, January 25, 2008

Life outside can be cold. It can be wet and dirty and, many times, dangerous.

"People die," said Alise Evans, homeless for the past 12 years, "but people die a lot more out here than they do inside, and you can't stop it."

A recent spate of homeless deaths in Sacramento is being blamed mostly on a stretch of cold and damp weather. However, three homeless men have been attacked in the city in the past two weeks – one of them fatally – and another was struck and killed by a train in West Sacramento.

No one in Sacramento formally tracks the number of attacks on the homeless or keeps complete records of homeless deaths, but police officers, homeless advocates and the homeless themselves say such reports had been rare in recent months.

"Things have been really good lately," said Sacramento Police Officer Mark Zoulas, a veteran cop who works closely with the city's homeless population.

No arrests have been made in the recent attacks, which police said appear to be unrelated.

The acts of violence are not the only tragedies to have struck the city's homeless population. The winter has been tough, with frigid nights and more rain than most years, conditions that were highlighted by the storms that hit the area earlier this month.

So far, the weather is believed to have played a role in the deaths of at least four homeless people, officials said.

A man and woman were found dead behind a Gardenland business in December after a night in which the temperature dipped to the freezing mark. The following week, during the winter storms that struck the area, two men were found dead in a flooded homeless camp along the American River.