Homeless people who have turned to the Sacramento County courthouse grounds for nighttime shelter found themselves on the sidewalk Monday evening as the California Highway Patrol cracked down on illegal camping.
CHP officers were stationed at several points around the Gordon D. Schaber County Courthouse, home to Sacramento Superior Court, 720 Ninth Street. Sgt. Bob DiMiceli said the CHP, which patrols state buildings, including the courthouse, was working with the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department to curb unlawful camping in the downtown area.
Court officials have complained about trash and human waste left behind by overnight campers, which require extensive daily cleanup.
“At 6 p.m., it was lightly occupied. Since it got dark, more people have come,” DeMiceli said.
About a dozen people gathered with their belongings on the sidewalk along the H Street side of the courthouse about 9 p.m. Monday. DeMiceli said the sidewalk was the Police Department’s jurisdiction.
Alex Snider, 19, said he and his 64-year-old father, Robert Snider, spent nights on the courthouse grounds for the past several months, since coming to Sacramento from Kansas. The courthouse has been a safe place, he said.
Alex Snider said he has had trouble finding a job, although he has worked for fast-food restaurants in the past, and he and his father don’t have money for housing.
Ben Dodge said he works for California Emergency Foodlink, but it is a part-time job and doesn’t pay enough to cover rent. He camped along the river until the area flooded during the winter, but he may return now to the spot in the East Sacramento area, he said.
Monday night’s eviction from the courthouse grounds didn’t come as a surprise. Dodge said police have been warning campers in recent weeks that they were going to have to move out of the downtown area.
DeMiceli said CHP officers would provide information on resources available to the homeless, such as Loaves and Fishes, but would not direct people to any specific sites or service Monday night.
Dodge said he has been following Sacramento City Council discussions regarding establishment of a tent city of homeless people and said he would welcome that option.