More homeless camps evicted from public property

Dozens of homeless camps along the Kern River were removed last month. But, the City of Bakersfield is now facing a new problem, a shift in where the homeless call home.

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Dozens of homeless camps along the Kern River were removed last month, in an effort to clean up the city.

But the City of Bakersfield is now facing a new problem, a shift in where the homeless call home.

"Finding food, shelter, and facilities, that's our biggest need," said Jody Belt, who's homeless. "A place where we can rest our neck, get a bite to eat and go to the bathroom."

However, Belt is in the process of moving again. He used to live in a small area on Rosedale Highway near the Highway 99 on ramp.

But Wednesday morning, he packed his belongings as Caltrans evicted him and his friends.

"It's just a struggle. It really is every day. There's days we don't eat. There's days I starve. We get used to it," said Taisha Wells, who's homeless.

"We got run off the Kern River where we had a nice little tent, a little camp spot, everything was nice and cool," said Belt. "We get run off from there and now we have to sleep under a tree where the sprinklers come on in the rain. We have no cover. We have nothing."

Last month, the city began removing and cleaning homeless camps in the river bed.

Since then, city officials say homeless people are picking new locations in which to live, places they don't belong.

"People think it's like a walk in the park. This is not a walk in the park," said Wells. "This is nothing compared to a walk in the park. This is way too hard. It's hard. It's not an easy thing to do."

Richard Iger, Associate Attorney with the City of Bakersfield, says crews are now issuing citations on a weekly basis.

"The challenge is to make sure the homeless individual's rights are maintained throughout the process so we've been very careful," said Iger. "We give them adequate notice before we go out there and also keep whatever property is seized for a reasonable amount of time so they can retrieve it."

As for Belt, he says he wishes the homeless community received better treatment.

"We have a really tight family and community out here with the homeless, ya know? We police our own people and the ones that aren't worthy of staying around, we get rid of them," said Belt. "We chase them off because they're doing nothing but creating problems for us."

City officials say once the camps are cited, the homeless have 72 hours to leave.

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