There is a homeless camp near my house. You can barely see it because it is hidden behind lots of shrubs and trees that sprout up quickly and that make the space between the freeway and the turn off to my home a small forest.
Today on my way to take the kiddos to the park I noticed a bunch of orange Caltrans trucks and equipment parked by the side of the encampment and saw they had cut down all the foliage and had thrown several tents, tarps and what looked like belongings into the trucks to haul off to the dump. I only hope the people who lived there knew they were coming and had a chance to take their belongings before the cleanup crew arrived.
I felt sad as I sat there and watched the Caltrans people weilding electric tree cutting and shrub cutting equipment until the car behind me honked and I had to start driving again. Now the people who made that camp their home are homeless. They were homeless to begin with.
I'm smart enough to know that homeless people are not all mentally ill, avoiding child support payments or people who don't want to pay taxes. They are also people who lost their homes and families through tragedies, people with substance abuse issues and people who have no support systems. We have so few shelters and the shelters we do have fill up so quickly that there are always people forced to make homes for themselves on the streets.
I have been homeless before, not the kind of homeless where I've had to live on the streets but homeless where I've slept on people's spare beds, lounged on their couches and shared their dormroom beds. I have always had a support system however and that has kept me from sleeping on benches outside, from camping off freeway exits or having to walk all night to keep warm. Once I had to sit in a train station in the bathroom from 2am to 6am but even then I was relatively warm and had shelter.
When my eldest asked me what was going on, I told her that they had torn down the homeless camp and that they had thrown away their tents and tarps and things. She said, "Oh NO! Now we don't have anyone to give our crackers and snacks to anymore"! And she was right.