County Health and Human Services Agency staff and nonprofit partners helped to coordinate two community homeless camp cleanups in the month of October.
North San Juan Camp Cleanup
The first one was in North San Juan on October 6th. The effort was organized by the San Juan Ridge Action Community Team (SJR ACT) and involved over 40 community volunteers.
“The folks who helped were the happiest of people... we were a bit amazed at what was collected, the dumpster was completely full, and about half stayed to have lunch together,” said Pat Leach, a member of the SJR ACT.
The North San Juan cleanup focused on the downtown area around the Senior Center, and included one major homeless encampment near the community cemetery. County Staff, working with SJR ACT, Hospitality House and the Grass Valley Police Department worked to secure the donation of a large 40 cubic yard dumpster from Waste Management. Homeless residents in North San Juan also pitched in to help clean the area by the cemetery that has been impacted by a long standing homeless encampment. SJR ACT plans to make the community clean up a yearly event.
Hospitality House Camp Cleanup
The second cleanup occurred on October 18th in the greater Brunswick basin. Organized by Hospitality House, the second cleanup focused on five areas impacted by homeless encampments: Idaho-Maryland Road, Old Tunnel Road, Behind the South Yuba Club, Gates Place Road and around the Kmart shopping center. Nearly 30 volunteers, including Hospitality House guests and staff from the shelter, deployed in teams out to the locations to remove refuse and to engage with campers.
Joe Naake, lead Outreach Coordinator for the Hospitality House Shelter, reached out to campers in the weeks leading up to the cleanup. "We wanted to make sure people knew we were coming, and that people had the chance to gather their belongings" he said.
Joe said that Hospitality House outreach staff know many of the campers and regularly connect with them, offering services and working to address needs. On cleanup days, Joe reported that campers often assist efforts by bringing trash closer to access trails and make sure their belongings are separated. Similar to the North San Juan cleanup, the Hospitality House cleanup was helped along by a generous donation of a large dumpster from Waste Management.
Better Together: Partnering with the Community
The County is committed to coordinating with nonprofit partners to conduct effective outreach and build bridges for homeless residents into permanent housing. County staff, nonprofit providers, and law enforcement from across the County meet weekly to discuss coordination of outreach and to share housing resources and build capacity around case management activities. Community cleanups are a small part of these overall coordination efforts. In the end we are truly better together.