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Benchlands encampment expected to be cleared out

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV)- Look off the overpass on Water Street, and you’ll see tents lined up together.

This is located in San Lorenzo Park in a place called The Benchlands.

For people living here like Jared Norris, it’s not just a regular spot.

 “It's… it's pretty lame, you know,” Norris said. “I think so. Because this is where I call home, you know.”

Now people who come through here in the BenchLands see how bad the conditions are in this area. I spoke to a few community members who walk past this area constantly, and the one message they’ve given of concern was the health of both people and animals that live in the encampment.

Another issue citizens had was the overall bad conditions of the park itself.

With so many parts of the park gated off, people here lack the resources to stay hydrated and clean.

Some organizations, like the Faith Community Church, are trying to help the homeless cope with living on the streets or in these camps.

“There’s pretty much only one other place I know that does that in town, and it’s the Homeless People’s Homeless Project,” Faith Community Church member Adam Henderson said. “So, at this point, it’s just nice to have a good shower.”

By Tuesday, campers are being told to move along, however.

This leaves the homeless at The Benchlands with no choice but to find another place to stay outdoors as they say there aren't other options for them.

“If you guys have better suggestions for what we can do, please show up to the meetings,” Norris said. “Let us hear what…cause we want something better, but this is what we got right now. So, to take it away is pretty hard.”

City Staff is communicating with those living in the encampment about alternative housing once the evictions begin on Tuesday next week.

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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46


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