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Placerville Officials Say Hangtown Haven Was Too Successful For Its Own Good

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PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — A tent city that dozens of homeless people called home is now closed after more than a year.

The lights are out at Hangtown Haven, and now the people who slept there every night will have to find a new place to stay.

“It’s very difficult, ’cause it’s just that the rug has been pulled out from underneath us all,” said Becky Nylander, who stayed at Hangtown Haven.

People like Nylander and Jennifer Webb know what it means to be homeless. But when they moved into Hangtown Haven several months ago, they finally had a place to call home.

“Some place I could come home to every night, lay my head down and go to sleep,” Webb said.

But that’s all changing.

The pilot program, which allowed dozens of people to camp in Placerville started in 2012. But the city chose not to extend the permit this week, which sent campers packing.

“We’ve had a larger influx of homeless people coming into our area, and our police have had to respond to a larger number of calls,” said Mayor Wendy Thomas.

Calls for service involving transient offenders increased 92 percent since the start of the program. Burglaries in town are up 25 percent, and thefts are up 62 percent.

Thomas says she wants to make it clear that it’s not the people at Hangtown Haven causing the problem, it’s outsiders.

“We have found that cities, jurisdictions, parole, corrections, nonprofits have brought people here because we had a creative solution that was working,” she said.

Business owner Chuck Holland believes the haven only added to Placerville’s homeless problem.

“It was like putting out a bowl of cat food and attracting in all the stray cats,” he said. “It makes it difficult for people trying to run a business in town.”

But for people like Becky and Jennifer, they feel left out in the cold, not knowing what their future may be.

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