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Life on the Riverbed: Finding permanent housing for families living in Salinas Riverbed

KING CITY, Calif. (KION-TV)- In the first part of this special assignment, we introduced you to three families living in a homeless camp next to the river in South Monterey County.

Local agencies have created a plan to transition them into more suitable housing. King City Manager Steve Adams says the Summer months are dangerous for people living in this substandard housing situation.

Read more: Life on the Riverbed: Families living in Salinas Riverbed after being priced out of housing

"This is the most difficult kind of issue I've been involved in in my career. I don't think there is a perfect solution that's going to solve everything," said Adams. "We're fortunate to have a lot of really great agencies within the county."

Adams is optimistic that a new temporary plan approved by King City Council in early June is going to be different this time around.

Given the increase in construction along the Salinas River, the city put in place an interim strategy with the help of the county nonprofits and churches.

"There's been so much work that's gone into this it's been an all-hands-on-deck approach," said County of Monterey Homeless Services Director, Roxanne Wilson.

This summer, every homeless person from the riverbed will be relocated.

"But I know I will never give up I am going to get a house one day," said Cinthia Santiago, who lives in the Salinas Riverbed

They will be taken to a nearby motel until the development and approval of Project Homekey in October. That will be at the former Days Inn, and they will also be given other services they need. This project is different because housing services will be available first before everything else.

"If we don't work together and each community does their part. It's just the problems getting bigger and bigger and everyone's still affected by it even though it's not in your backyard," said Adams.

Property owners have given legal consent, and by late July Monterey County deputies will be enforcing trespassing violations in the riverbed.

Not only is it private property, but the city also cites fire hazards, unsafe conditions for children, and environmental damages to the riverbed.

"So there's erosion there's water quality issues," said Adams.

It's not a one size fits all plan. The extended Baral family doesn't qualify for this type of assistance. There are too many family members to place in hotel rooms.

"You can't lump homeless people together. Every single person or family has their own story, their own situation and they're completely different," says Adams.

The city has partnered with the church and representatives will be stepping in. There is a lot of work the men in the family will not be able to complete, however, no matter where they are placed... The families want to be together.

"I am proud of my family and this house where I live," said Nicholas Baral Carillo, who lives along the Salinas Riverbed.

Carillo is a pillar for his two adult daughters. He immigrated to the US three years ago.

He tells us he's proud of what he's built here.

Carillo told KION, "I'm making an effort to give my children a place where they can live, eat and feel comfortable, and we can be happy together."

The children have also been the biggest priority for everyone involved with their relocation.

"A lot of times our families are not visible and so we don't know the hardships that they're going through. And they may be staying in a car but you wouldn't know it. So it's important for us to be able to identify these families so we can offer them services."

It's clear compassion from the agencies involved is not lacking.

For the next year, the families will have a paid permit for trailers and daycare services. There will be many people working together to get them on their feet.

"That's the whole purpose of what we do is to get everybody into safe housing," said Wilson

Everyone involved is hopeful the family never has to return to the riverbed.

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Veronica Macias

Veronica Macias is an evening anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.


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