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CHICO, Calif. - The California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Caltrans cleared out a homeless camp Tuesday along Highway 32 and Highway 99. Some of the homeless expressed they were scared to leave the area.
“We have to be out of here and vacate immediately,” a Chico community member who did not want to be identified said.
After receiving a 72-hour notice last Thursday, those living in this area were expected to be packed up and moved out by 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“People are out here with a bunch of different problems that they are facing and anyone of you could be in the same situation given a fire or any natural disaster if you didn’t have the help too,” a Chico community member who did not want to be identified said.
Most of the homeless who were living in this area said they don’t know where they will go next.
“We don’t know exactly,” a Chico community member who did not want to be identified said. “You lose jobs because you can’t get enough time in-between having to move every two to three days to be able to maintain a regular job.”
Officials with the City of Chico said the area along Highway 32 and 99 in Chico is owned by the state. Therefore, the Chico Police Department nor the city is able to step in and help with clearing out these areas.
“It is Caltrans right away underneath the freeway,” Public Works Director for the City of Chico, Eric Gustafson said. “However, we have a maintenance agreement with Caltrans to maintain the park areas underneath the freeways over passes.”
Those who were removed from the area Tuesday are now seeking help.
“We don’t want to be like this,” a Chico community member who did not want to be identified said. “I’d rather work 40-to-60-hour weeks and have a place and roof over my head and not have to deal with this.”
Public Works officials said if requested from Caltrans, they will come out and assist in cleaning up the area. For now, they continue to clean up trash in areas where the city has removed the homeless.
Within the month of March, Public Works has cleaned up 27 tons of trash from city parks and greenways.