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Homeless hideouts sprouting in Auburn

Shelter full as camp discoveries continue
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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The report of another homeless camp — this time on the lawn next to the Auburn Library — was fielded by authorities Tuesday.

It was the latest in a string of discoveries by Auburn Police and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office of homeless people finding a place to set up a camp — sometimes in the open — and sometimes deep in the bushes on property rarely visited.

Last week, the Auburn Police were called to Alta Vista Charter School off Lincoln Way. Employees had reported activity on the roof and while no homeless person was there, evidence of a camp, including a bedroll was discovered after a climb to the top by authorities.

In July last year, sharp-eyed North Auburn residents were credited with helping ferret out a homeless camp that had been set up inside a culvert at Regional Park. The discovery of that camp came days after a similar discovery in the Lincoln area, where homeless people had established a camp in an enclosed area under the highway.

Over the past several months, the Auburn Police Department has been working with county health and probation officials to locate homeless camps in Auburn, post them for vacancy when possible, and reach out with information on services available to help get them off the streets.

This past month, the joint city-county team visited 53 locations, including areas popular for camping or frequenting that include Auburn Ravine Trail, Union Pacific right-of-way in the Auburn Folsom Road-Pacific Avenue areas, Highway 49 and Jordan Lane, the School Park Preserve, Epperle Lane and the 400-block of High Street.

That effort is ongoing with campsite cleanups and offers of services.

Meanwhile, the number of homeless people staying at the North Auburn shelter has not changed since a changeover in operators July 1. Roseville’s Gathering Inn took over from Volunteers of America at that time at what the new operator has renamed the Mid-Placer Emergency Housing Program.

Gathering Inn CEO Keith Diederich said the nonprofit organization has decided to operate with the same rules as Volunteers of America for the first few weeks to see what may need changing. That includes not changing any rules regarding being a so-called “dry” shelter not allowing people in who are high on drugs or who have been imbibing alcohol.

“We’re filled to capacity and still have people waiting to get in,” Diederich said.

Other options for people who are waiting are up to the individuals but there are no other emergency beds other than the Gathering Inn program in the Auburn area, Diederich said.