New transitional camp opens for homeless

SANTA CRUZ — State Park Rangers teamed up with Santa Cruz Police and Santa Cruz County workers early Wednesday to clear away a homeless camp that has taken over a large section of San Lorenzo Park known as the bench lands.

Since October, several dozen tents have been erected and mountains of trash have been collected by officials.

Eileen Cross, communication relations specialist for the City of Santa Cruz, said it will take several days to clear out San Lorenzo Park.

“People staying at the park were given notifications,” Cross said. “The city officially opened the River Street Emergency Transitional Camp Wednesday.”

The transitional camp, located on River Street about a mile from San Lorenzo Park, can house 49 tents and about 100 people, Cross said.

People camping at San Lorenzo Park have until Friday at noon to be out of the park.

“Today has been a big turning point for us,” Cross said.

Many of the people in the bench lands camps rolled up sleeping bags and packed up their gear Wednesday morning as the work crews erected the fence around the camp and Park Rangers maintained watch.

Cross said homeless people were given vouchers that would be required to stay at the new transitional camp.

Modeled after a successful transitional camp in San Diego, the River Street Camp will be the first of its kind on the Central California Coast. The temporary emergency transitional camp will provide shelter, security, storage, hygiene stations, and one hot meal per day for up to 100 individuals.

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