California

Tents are up at new Modesto homeless camp under bridge. People could move in soon

Tents are up at new Modesto homeless camp under Ninth Street bridge

Crews on Tuesday had erected about 150 tents at a site for a city and county-approved homeless encampment underneath the Ninth Street Bridge along the Tuolumne River in Modesto, California.
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Crews on Tuesday had erected about 150 tents at a site for a city and county-approved homeless encampment underneath the Ninth Street Bridge along the Tuolumne River in Modesto, California.

Crews on Tuesday had erected about 150 tents at a site for a city and county-approved homeless encampment underneath the Ninth Street Bridge along the Tuolumne River in Modesto.

Homeless people who have been camping at nearby Beard Brook Park since mid-September could start moving into the new tent camp later this week, said Modesto spokesman Thomas Reeves.

He said the people living in the park will be moved into the tent camp under the bridge in phases based on pre-registration by officials from Stanislaus County and Turning Point Community Programs, the nonprofit expected to coordinate services at the camp.

Turning Point will provide staff members at the camp from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The camp also will have security guards from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., officials have said.

The 10-foot-by-10-foot tents — a few hundred of them — have been donated by a Reno-based company called Qamp. Not all of them have been erected. The other tents will go up as more people move in.

The land underneath the bridge has been graded, and the tents were placed on top of a bed of wood chips.

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Crews have already placed some garbage bins, portable bathrooms and hand-washing stations at the new camp. Officials have said that United Way of Stanislaus County is collecting donations toward the purchase of sleeping bags and other supplies.

Modesto allowed homeless people to camp in Beard Brook Park after the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 4 that it was cruel and unusual punishment to prosecute people for sleeping on public property if there are not enough shelter beds or other alternatives.

Officials have said Beard Brook Park has been home to more than 400 homeless men, women and children for the past few months.

Since the city of Modesto sanctioned Beard Brook Park as a campground for the homeless over a month ago, it has taken on a life of its own. 250-plus people live in the park along Dry Creek that has become known as Beard Brook Village.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.

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