Wednesday, April 16, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Challenges of closing Hangtown Haven

EDITOR:

During the last year, Hangtown Haven, the innovative facility for homeless people, has drawn national attention because of its success in getting homeless people off the streets and into rehabilitation and job training opportunities.

The Haven has developed a community, a “family,” as it were, of mutual support and care, and has worked to improve the lives of its residents and the lives of others.

The Haven has provided a platform for recovery from addictions and depression, something that is nearly impossible when a disoriented man or woman is alone on the streets or in isolated and illegal camps.

The Haven has reduced public expense by reducing policing and clean-up activities.

The Haven has reduced the risk of wildfires by eliminating many isolated camps where fires are built for survival.

The Haven has reduced public health concerns by providing a clean environment for people who are homeless and where health needs are monitored and met.

In spite of all of this accomplishment the city of Placerville ordered the Haven to close by Nov. 15, 2013.

Where will the residents of the Haven go? The cold and wet winter is upon us. The women and men of Hangtown Haven will not evaporate into thin air. The people who have demonstrated their ability to be rehabilitated and reenter the workforce will be on the streets, trying to survive. They will be in doorways and behind buildings and in the woods camping illegally. Some may take advantage of the Nomadic Shelter program of local churches which provides a warm dry place to sleep. However, several of these churches have limited space and cannot accommodate 35 to 40 more people than they did during the last year when the Haven was operating. In addition, homeless men and women in the Nomadic Shelters must leave the churches each morning and be sent back onto the streets.

Several residents of the Haven are not physically or mentally able to cope on the streets without the help of their “family” at the Haven. All of these women and men will suffer from cold, wet, potential disease, fear of possible robbery and physical attack.

The county is working to evaluate sites to develop a facility similar to the Haven. This process will probably take several months.

What were the possible solutions? Could the city reverse its eviction action? Could it extend the special use permit under which the site functions? Could the county move rapidly and find another site, perhaps an interim site?

The city and the county have significant resources. The challenge is for these organizations to work cooperatively to prevent the travesty of destroying the accomplishments of the people of Hangtown Haven.

DON VANDERKAR
Placerville

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 14 comments

  • It's like playing the lottery over and over and over, waiting, waiting, waiting...January 08, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    Yes, It hurts to have to wait and wait and wait…What's worse is to have to endure life's trials, and it hurts even worse to repeat them over and over, …-Yet, "Do not fear. Do not blame. Do not doubt? Cease striving and know that I am God."….-& All things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose….-& of course we all know that waiting is never easy especially when suffering people are involved. Some are trapped in a tunnel of misery, overworked, exhausted, and discouraged. Tempted to quit? Nothing surprises God. God Is the people's hope, and source of strength, and courage. "The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9 Let Go, And Let God.

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  • SFRJanuary 08, 2014 - 4:55 pm

    The Havens true legacy is the trash left at the site. I suggest anyone sick of blight to tour the area without the artificial sweetening. No hurry it's not going anywhere. In fact, get used to it. Don, Art, get off your keesters and clean it up!

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  • Foaming at the MouthJanuary 08, 2014 - 11:02 pm

    Yeah, those messy homeless people should have packed up all their stuff and taken it home with them. Oh, wait.

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  • The WhoJanuary 08, 2014 - 5:08 pm

    "We won't get fooled again"!

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  • JimBoJanuary 09, 2014 - 8:22 am

    Thank you City Council....I now have homeless people deficating on my property now that you closed the Hangtown Haven down.

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  • this could be you!January 09, 2014 - 7:36 pm

    Jimbo the hangtown haven residents wouldn't do that would they? What would it being closed down have to do with that? Foaming if you allowed someone to stay on your property and they left a huge mess would you invite them back?

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  • Fran DuchampJanuary 09, 2014 - 10:30 pm

    Do you guys listen to your written voices...shaking head. " More than 226,000 children are homeless in California, which ranks top in the United States for homeless kids, says a report from the National Center on Family Homelessness." Our shameful position: California ranks #1 in homeless children By Tim Blaylock 08/08/2013 http://tinyurl.com/kp3lsvk

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  • Fran DuchampJanuary 09, 2014 - 10:46 pm

    According to Peck, of the two million veterans in California, 200,000 are living below the poverty line. Peck said it’s hard to tell how many veterans are homeless, but that number could be as high as 50,000." Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Governor-Signs-Bill-to-Help-Homeless-Veterans-227296231.html#ixzz2pyVNW000

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  • EvelynJanuary 10, 2014 - 7:57 am

    AN UN-HAPPY NEW YEAR IN AMERICA* -- ”For many of Seattle's 10,000 homeless, the only overhead shelters are the Interstate 5 and 405 freeway overpasses. These easements are the permanent homes for thousands of Seattle area residents whose numbers are rapidly growing. ….. Among the Seattle residents now living under the freeway overpasses, we found many who had formerly held middle-class jobs before the construction industry declined. Additionally, many suffered work-related injuries, which rendered them unable to work and were deemed ineligible for social security benefits, including Workers' Compensation. A number of them told us emphatically that they prefer to remain on the streets rather than face violence and sexual assault which they report to be prevalent in the shelters. ..… Far and beyond the stress caused by homeless shelters infested with bed bugs and broken group showers is the constant presence of U.S. Department of Homeland Security cops whose main mission appears to be to patrol downtown Seattle and chase homeless people from their sleeping bags while there is no safe alternative place to go. The homeless we spoke to complain that they can only get between two and four hours of sleep before the DHS cops wake them up and order them to move on. Night time in Seattle is an endless procession of silent downtrodden figures in cardboard boxes and sleeping bags eternally on the move from the police enforcers. ..… Seattle's governing clique have created a homeless services infrastructure. The infrastructure, which includes the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) and a group called SHARE/WHEEL, have regimented the homeless population by issuing them identification cards for DESC that ensures them a bed crawling with bedbugs and inoperative nine-person showers where sexual deviants prey on the unsuspecting new arrivals. ..… The homeless do not even have access to restrooms unless they are paying customers at local restaurants. … Every homeless person we spoke to related to us how the system they are mired in does not allow for them to elevate themselves up from homelessness to employment and, hopefully, a home they can call their own. Once branded homeless, these unfortunates among us are offered minimum wage jobs that do not cover even basic necessities like rent and food as they compete with countless others among the shrinking middle class for such jobs.” ------------------- * Excerpted with above title from article published 1/1/14 at a subscription-based website.

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 10, 2014 - 10:34 am

    Marginal note: 10,000 is for Seattle's Kings County ~~~ LINK - Homelessness in Seattle ~~~ why cold, rainy, wet Kings County? Natives of Washington?

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  • Phil VeerkampJanuary 10, 2014 - 11:00 am

    . . . on a happier note: 99.5% of King County (Seattle) are NOT homeless! Put another way: If the non-homeless of King County (Seattle) opened their doors to the homeless just 1.8 nights per year then all would be sheltered!!!

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  • Homeless HereJanuary 11, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    Let the excuses begin, well put Phil.

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  • Once HomelessJanuary 13, 2014 - 6:35 am

    Fran, I would not want our society to believe that a city park is the solution for housing homeless children. The stat of 300,000 homeless children included those in transition between permanent homes. For instance hotels. As a child my family at one point moved 11 times in one year. The children never felt homeless because we had our parents. Mom and Dad never seeked government assistance because they believed they could manage their own situation better. Our family was very poor but never felt we were not able to handle our situation. In 5th grade my parents settled into one town and I lived in the same house until I graduated High School. While I was in school I worked in a class program mainly migrant workers children. I had much empathy for those children and was grateful for my situation. My point being the life's situation changes.

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  • REWJanuary 13, 2014 - 7:06 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g

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