By all accounts the 30 who lived at the Hangtown Haven were the creme of the homeless population. The camp was largely self-governing. A goodly number of the tenants of the organized tent city were able to bring enough order into their lives to land employment or at least disability payments that would help finance permanent shelter.
From the testimony given at the last Placerville City Council meeting there appears to be an increase in the number of homeless in the immediate vicinity of the upper Broadway area, with even the residents of Smith Flat Road complaining about break-ins and people camping on the trail. Wiltse Road residents are also experiencing similar problems.
From 2012 to 2013, the Placerville Police Department reported a 92 percent increase in the number of homeless with whom they had contact because of aggressive panhandling, illegal camping, drug and alcohol abuse and public urinating and defecating. And burglaries went up 25 percent and thefts 62 percent.
The police believe there is an influx of homeless and they are coming from out of the county. Residents believe the organized camp attracted outsiders.
Another factor left unsaid is the prisoners released or paroled into this county with little resources other than to join the homeless.
What we would suggest is the volunteers who supported Hangtown Haven organize a census of the homeless that would include information about how recently they came here, how long they have been here, where they came from, including the jail and state prison, and what is their basic personal status. Information is key. Information can be empowering. Information is needed to take the next step in tackling homelessness in this county.