San Diego: Homeless pushed from downtown settling elsewhere - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego: Homeless pushed from downtown settling elsewhere

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – As San Diego clears homeless camps out of downtown streets in the wake of the hepatitis A crisis, other parts of the city are seeing a huge jump in their homeless populations.

Staying one step ahead of police enforcement, many homeless people are looking to settle in places that are not so conspicuous.

One of those places is the San Diego riverbed in Mission Valley which has seen the number of homeless camps double in a year’s time.

Another place where the homeless have re-settled is Balboa Park – forming encampments that create not only environmental concerns, but concerns about safety of these people living in the Mission Valley flood plain as the rainy winter season approaches.

A San Diego native who identified himself as Mark has been homeless for the past two years. He was recently living on the streets downtown, but like hundreds of others in his situation, has now set up camp along the San Diego River bed in Mission Valley.

“We are just trying to live our lives, you know? The cops are more aggressive down there [downtown], out here is more laid back,” he said.

The non-profit behind a detailed count of homeless is the San Diego River Park Foundation. Sarah Hutmacher is its associate director.

“Our estimate is that there are probably more than 250 homeless individuals living along the river in Mission Valley,” she said.

The foundation has organized clean-up efforts along the riverbed – picking up 230,000 pounds of trash so far this year. It also partners with local social services agencies like the Alpha Project and the police department’s “HOT” team – sharing its data with them.

“While we are doing cleanup efforts, they will do outreach efforts at the same – suing our maps,” said Hutmacher.

In late September, city leaders and sanitation crews cleared out many of the encampments along the riverbed in Mission Valley as part of a concerted effort to combat the hepatitis A outbreak.

In a matter of weeks, though, those camps had popped up again in even greater numbers.

“It’s an ongoing thing. It is like hide and go seek. You find a spot to put up your place and it’s only a matter of time you have to move,” said Mark.

For more information on the San Diego River Park Foundation and all of its different volunteer programs, visit www.sandiegoriver.org.

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