California officials started the lengthy process of removing an enclave of homeless people from their Orange County encampment Monday.
The two-mile long area, home to between 500 to 1,000 homeless Californians, will slowly be cleaned out as the local government prepares for a rehabilitation project for the Santa Ana River. The three-month project is meant to clean out the polluted area which has been deemed dangerous and toxic for people to live, due to “human waste, chemical waste and some public safety issues,” the undersheriff said.
“We will do everything we can through services, outreach to help people get back home, but we’re not going to come in with a show of force on day one and just start moving people out. At some point, everybody will have to be off the riverbed,” Undersheriff Don Barnes of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department told ABC7.
The department first started sending out notices announcing the removal plan in the beginning of January. Officials added they are also trying to help the homeless who live there find other housing.
Organizations for the homeless have already begun to speak out against the removal process, trying to raise funds for those being removed and holding up signs with the phrases ” Where am I supposed to go” and “Eviction Day.”
“It’s not effective. It’s not humane. It’s not giving people any choice,” attorney Brooke Weitzman said to the Associated Press. “There’s nowhere to go other than the city sidewalks.”
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