Janice Moore is out on the streets, wandering somewhere in her own vicious cycle between the cold winter air and another night in jail.
Moore’s story appeared in this column last month. She has spent most of the past six years living beneath a freeway underpass on K Street with her two dogs and a cat.
Claudia Romero, driven by her religious faith, led a remarkable effort to help Moore. She collected $900 from readers in the days after the column appeared. Romero bought Moore a heavy blanket and animal rescue groups offered food to Moore’s pets.
The donations were given to Moore on the day before New Year’s Eve, giving her time to deposit the checks into her account before the banks closed for the holiday. Three days later, Moore was in jail. Again.
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According to court records, this was at least the sixth time Moore has been arrested in the past four years. She was charged with illegal camping, the offense that has landed her in jail most often, and spent four nights in jail.
While she hasn’t been there since her release, Moore always seems to end up back on K Street. Her friends expect to see her there soon.
“It’s so sad, but it seems like this is something she’s gotten used to,” Romero said.
There does seem to be a routine here. When she was arrested on Jan. 2, the cops brought Moore to the city animal shelter on Front Street to drop off her pets, then shipped her to jail. The same thing happened when she was booked in June 2013. Altogether, Moore’s animals have been in the shelter at least three times.
The shelter used to kill or put up for adoption the animals of homeless people who went to jail. But Gina Knepp, the outspoken head of the shelter, has changed that. She keeps the animals safe as long as she can, then gives them back when the owners show up.
In Moore’s case, Knepp was met by a “gracious, humble and appreciative” woman. Moore’s dogs went crazy when they saw her. “Really, this woman is living under a freeway,” Knepp said. “Am I supposed to say, ‘I’m sorry you can’t have your animals back until you pay us $242’?”
People are trying to help Moore at every turn, and yet she seems to be resisting.
There are warming centers on cold nights. Police officials said a new unit tasked with homeless outreach took Moore into custody with the goal of getting her onto a path toward housing and services. The trip to jail also may have saved Moore’s life. The temperature fell below freezing three nights that week and the coroner’s office said two homeless people died during that stretch.
Moore is 69 years old. How many more winter nights can she take? At this point, it’s difficult to think about how her vicious cycle might finally come to an end.
Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at sacbee.com/citybeat.