City staff members cleared out 16 homeless encampments Monday morning, disposing of 8,750 pounds of trash and debris.
Homeless locals had three days’ notice to take their belongings elsewhere in anticipation of the sweep.
Bridge to Home employees went with code enforcement city staff and sheriff’s deputies last week to inform homeless individuals about available services while asking them to evacuate.
The number of encampments evacuated differs each month, according to city Community Preservation Manager Daniel Rivas.
“It’s all based on what staff is able to identify and on reports,” Rivas said. “It’s a combination of proactive inspections with reports that are submitted to us by the public.”
Of the 16 encampments cleaned, three were still occupied when staff members went to clean them out on Monday. There were four individuals between the three locations.
“Usually when we come back, nine out of 10 times, folks have vacated,” Rivas said.
If someone is still on site when staff members go to clean up, they allow the homeless person time to gather their possessions. If they cannot gather them quickly enough, staff moves onto another location and will return after the person has moved.
The goal is not to take the homeless individuals’ belongings, but to encourage them to take advantage of the resources that are available to them and move somewhere they can stay permanently, he said.
“The intent is not to remove their items,” Rivas said. “We want them to take care.”
For each person staff members contact, they are given brochures and informational sheets on next steps and tools they can utilize.
Among the recovered items, staff members found a BB gun in one encampment, which was recovered by sheriff’s deputies.
City staff started the sweeps for the first time in fall 2014 and made it a monthly process in March 2015.