California

Local governments can help with roadside homeless, Caltrans says

A woman found dead along Highway 99 on Aug. 1, 2018, died when she was struck by heavy equipment operated by a Caltrans worker doing a homeless encampment cleanup.
A woman found dead along Highway 99 on Aug. 1, 2018, died when she was struck by heavy equipment operated by a Caltrans worker doing a homeless encampment cleanup. jfarrow@modbee.com

Caltrans doesn’t yet have a statewide plan to rethink the department’s approach to clearing homeless encampments, but California Transportation Secretary Brian Annis said it is working to give local governments more say in what happens on state property.

New laws passed in the last two years allow Caltrans to rent its property for homeless programs at below-market rates in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County and San Joaquin County. Annis characterized those programs as efforts “to more systematically address” the homeless crisis.

San Francisco used a 2017 law to open a shelter in August on Caltrans property near Highway 101. Another one is expected to open by the end of the year, said Randy Quezada, community relations manager at the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. Both are intended to include services that would help homeless people get off the street.

“California has stepped up to support San Francisco so we can attack this homelessness crisis together,” Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who sponsored the bill said at the shelter’s opening.

Gov. Jerry Brown in July also appointed Caltrans Director Laurie Berman to a statewide commission that oversees grants to address homelessness and guides policies to address California’s housing shortage. Annis said that appointment would give the department a voice in shaping a statewide plan.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star

  Comments