LANCASTER — City officials and sheriff’s deputies cleared out homeless encampments last week and continued the process this week, advocates say.
“They don’t move them anywhere. They just kick them out, tell them to go elsewhere,” homeless advocate Cheryl Holbrook said Wednesday.
Holbrook estimated about 40 people have been moved so far.
Crews cleared out encampments along Sierra Highway near Grace Resource Center, from behind the McDonald’s restaurant on Avenue I, and along Avenue K near Kaiser Permanente Lancaster Medical Offices on 15th Street West.
“We regularly encounter homeless issues,” Lancaster City Manager Jason Caudle said Wednesday.
The city will respond if it receives complaints about homeless encampments or if there are issues associated with a homeless encampment, such as a fire last year that burned for about 12 hours in a concrete tunnel along Avenue K-8 known as a homeless encampment.
“We follow state and federal laws associated with that. There are guidelines for that; we just don’t go bulldoze people’s stuff and take their belongings,” Caudle said.
The city posts a notification, or red tag, to alert people that the encampment will be cleaned up in order for them to collect their belongings and move to a different area.
The city’s Public Safety office and Public Works Department work in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Department in case there are any law enforcement needs.
City officials can communicate with the people individually. They also notify advocacy agencies so they can provide services to the people. After that is done the city will move in and clean up the area. They will then remove any trash or debris left behind.
The City of Palmdale has an emergency shelter with 50 beds that is full. The shelter at the former High Desert Hospital at 60th Street West and Avenue I that is operated by the Salvation Army is also full.
Homeless advocate Eneida Molina of Shelly’s Kitchen said the next homeless camp to be cleaned up is at 10th Street West and Avenue I, where about 20 people live.
“They cleared out all of Avenue K last week when it snowed,” Molina said.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority was on hand to help transport the people affected, but Molina said the people who lived there had to leave all of their belongings behind.
“They are not given a voucher to come back on the bus, so they have to find their own way back,” Molina said.
An encampment at Avenue I and Yucca Avenue was red-tagged on Tuesday. The residents there have until Feb. 26 to clear out.
Molina said Chris Lloyd, a 34-year-old diabetic man, died Feb. 10 at a homeless encampment on Trevor Avenue about five days after he was released from the hospital.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office, an autopsy on Lloyd, whose full name was Monroe Christianale Lloyd, was performed on Feb. 13. The cause of death is deferred pending further investigation.
“He used insulin all day long and he needed to eat. Well, the shelter doesn’t allow them to have food in Lancaster throughout the day. You can’t keep it,” Molina said.
Residents of the Lancaster shelter are allowed to stay throughout the day, while the Palmdale emergency shelter requires guests to leave by 7 a.m.
“We knew him on a personal level, and so for us it was like hitting home,” Molina said.
Molina estimated there have been nine deaths among the homeless community during the winter.
“We had one that died in an alley. He fell asleep with a tank top and his blood pressure dropped. He had low blood pressure and he passed away.”
The recent rain storms have flooded some of the encampments along Avenue G and 17th Street West.
“If you’re out in the desert, the coldness at a camp is worse, and the worst part is the camp at Avenue G,” Molina said.
Molina estimated there are about 20 to 25 people at the Avenue G site, including a 70-year-old couple. There are still some people camped out in the desert off 20th Street West and Avenue H.
To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Letters to Editor, PO Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.