MODESTO (CBS13) — The city of Modesto is scrambling to find shelter for its homeless population.
This comes just weeks after a federal court ruling. In September, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal determined that it was illegal to ticket the homeless for sleeping in public places if there aren’t available beds in a shelter.
In response, Modesto opened up Beard Brook Park to serve as the designated legal homeless encampment. Modesto has been pushing people to this one park, and it’s been growing. Currently, there are more than 200 homeless people, family, elderly, and kids living there.
“The growth of the camp is outpacing the donations and that’s a concern because winter is coming,” said community member Kelly Keye.
Keye adds, “The tents are on a slope, the water is gonna run down, they’re all be wet.”
With temperatures dropping at night, concerns are high.
“We need tarps out here: warm sleeping bags, winter clothes,” said Keye.
The city has provided a water fountain, porter potties, and trash pick up. And while the city is working to find a better solution, It’s the community that has really stepped up.
“I take them to doctors appointments and grocery store,” said Anita Garcia.
Garcia has started a weekly crockpot event to feed the large crowds
“We bring in 15-20 people bringing soups, food, and dessert,” she said.
Every day residents are either delivering food, clothing or supplies.
“We’ve also donated sleeping bags and tents and anything they need,” said Carolyn Dinas.
“We even have a calendar, where people can sign up, choose their day, and what they want to provide,” said Kelly Keye.
The county has a team working on long-term solutions. Supervisor Terry Withrow says the county suggested a few temporary shelter locations but got pushback from neighbors and the city. He says it’s ultimately up to the city to find a place.
“We are here to support in any way to find temporary housing, but the city needs to find the spot,” said Withrow.
A city spokesperson says their staff has been working around the clock searching for locations that could work. The city says it realizes that Beard Brook is not an ideal place, and they are looking at two potential sites. An announcement may come in a couple weeks.
As the city searches for a more suitable solution, this community won’t allow families to go without.
“Of course I’m grateful, the city of Modesto hasn’t been a great place to live, but the people they pull together when you need them,” said Justin Phillips.