As in years past, serious fire dangers and health issues are in our back yard once again. We're barely into fire season and already two fires are thought to have been started by homeless people. With the warmer weather comes more people out and about and cities, especially those dependent on tourism, don't want their homeless problem to be seen. Their trash and their very presence is a nuisance to people hiking their trails or visiting their towns.
City Councils of both Nevada City and Grass Valley want the homeless campers in the forests and those hidden among the buildings to clean up their camps. Sierra Roots and Divine Spark , working with the Nevada City Police Department will be informing our homeless friends of the plans to clean up by the end of June. The camps on Sugar Loaf are especially targeted because the city of Nevada City will soon be building trails there. All campers will be given time to clean up their camps before the police come. If personal things are put safely into a tent and everything else around the camp is cleared out, the police will not disturb their personal things. Some campers may be asked to move their tent and belongings to a less visible place so they won't be seen. Some homeless people will cooperate and clean the area but many will choose to leave everything and move to a new space probably deeper into the forest.
But the homeless problems persist. Year after year the law enforcement use the same tired tactics as the previous year and the homeless people move from place to place with no real solution.
This only points out the critical need to address this situation with a sustainable solution, stop the merry-go-round, and direct our energy toward something that has proven to work. Communities around the western states have been turning to tiny house villages for part of the solution to homelessness. Tiny house villages have been springing up in towns across the country, (Portland, Olympia, San Luis Obispo, Santa Rosa, Eugene, Madison, Austin) demonstrating the feasibility of this model. (for more information, visit www.thevillagecollaborative.org)
Sierra Roots is formulating plans for a similar self-governing tiny house village with communal kitchens and bath rooms but small individual sleeping units. It will be financed by private donors, grants, rent from the residents, and cottage industries that the residents will operate. It will be governed by the residents, sustainable, and self-supporting.
Without a comprehensive plan for dealing with homelessness and the urgent need for more affordable housing, Nevada County's homeless problem will likely continue to grow in the future and we will continue to throw money at solutions that go nowhere. We need your support to create a real and lasting solution for our chronically homeless community in Nevada City.
Janice O'Brien and Board of Sierra Roots