Monday, homeless people in Modesto found no respite from the biggest rainstorm in years as Caltrans continued to sweep them away from encampments along Highway 99 and locations nearby. Governor Gavin Newsom’s ongoing program to get homeless people out of sight now includes pouring concrete along steep slopes under overpasses and erecting sturdy metal fences along highway borders as he attempts to sweep homelessness under the rug while he explores a presidential campaign. The concrete slopes and iron fencing are meant to prevent the possibility of homeless people camping along our major highways. Out of sight is out of mind.
Reports that Stanislaus County’s Modesto homeless shelters were full didn’t stop local police and sheriffs from rousting the destitute, disabled and distressed from what little cover they had, as some lost their meager belongings and were forced to huddle under plastic trash bags and flimsy tarps as the wind roared and rain poured down cold misery.
Though the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury Report for 2021-2022 found that local efforts to reduce homelessness wasted money, lacked accountability, and resulted in a rise in homeless numbers, the county’s largest city continued to criminalize the sick, the disabled and the poor, even while in violation of the 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruling that homeless people must be permitted to sleep on public grounds when no other shelter is available.
No Shelter From the Storm
Heavy rains flooded some of the displaced campers out while others frantically dug diversion ditches in hopes the raging waters wouldn’t soak what little clothing they had.
“Whatever happens, you don’t want your clothes to get wet,” said one long-term veteran of life on the streets. “When your clothes get wet, you can’t get warm and it gets freezing cold at night.”
At one recent campsite, Caltrans heavy equipment scooped and dug while workers put up and welded the new metal fencing. A short distance away, under what looked like a pile of tumbleweeds and trash bags, some of the displaced people huddled against the cold while others tried to separate and lay out soaked clothing in hopes it would dry out enough to wear against the rising wind. Trucks and other traffic roared overhead.
Local news featured reports about Stanislaus County’s booming economy, which hit a record $21.96 billion in 2021. On Facebook, Modesto Mayor Sue Zwahlen posted a rapturous report about her role as the Fairy Godmother in Central West Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker.
How is the Mayor’s performance got anything to do with this good article??
Hiiiii Ladonna… it’s dj
Newsome is responsible for the cruel heartless treatment and neglect of the homeless people. He is a worthless individual Recalled Remember
Yeah but they font have to be so disgustingly messy like that there no excuse, I get being homeless is sad but there is NO EXCUSE for there trash ALL OVER!!
Mary Brown says
I think there may be another reason for the fencing along highways ; traffic safety. I used to frequently travel to Los Gatos and in the South Bay, there were homeless encampments alongside exit and on ramps. Typically there is a steep slope rising up from the roadway to a flat area which runs along the ramp. The homeless placed their camps there and many times their belongings fell down onto the road below . Or were thrown onto the road. I can’t tell you how many times I had to swerve to avoid shopping carts , furniture etc that were in the middle of the road . And this being the South Bay, traffic was always heavy.
I also saw this on the Sonora bypass and along I-5 in Oregon. On the Sonora bypass, there was a huge camp removal ; I got stuck in traffic and witnessed it. Caltrans, the highway patrol, sheriffs were there with trucks with enormous bins to collect all the stuff. On the road itself was a lot of stuff that had fallen off the encampment above the road cut. Crews were out, cleaning that up.
Not trying to blame the homeless here. Just trying to point out that there are two immediate needs here; a safe place for the homeless to stay and to keep lanes clear in high speed, heavily used roads.
Great article governor Newsom please help the homeless think if your family members were in this situation, you’ve got to do something! 😢
LOU VALERO says
It is satirical, the Mayor’s self report was rapturous for herself, not for those STUCK OUT IN THE RAIN AND BLUSTERY STORM. In other words, she, herself, was full of, her own kind of, BLUSTER…
IT AMOUNTS TO HER BEING NO FAIRY god ANYTHING, to her, very real, disenfranchised, marginalized, poverty struck, and, HOUSELESS constituents.
Eucelia fritch says
First. I would like to commend the editor of this article and it’s very thorough explanation of what is truly taking place here on Modesto,CA.
While others barely have interest in speaking upon an issue, desperate for discussion.
As far as the plan to eliminate homelessness here in Stanislaus is concerned?
Well. There is no concern. You have no Solution but continue to use the money being awarded for this exact task!!! Yet, the numbers are growing . In fact,
Modesto itself has only 1 shelter, and that’s Salvation Army. However, There’s also the empty building in which Salvation Army used (prior to the new one opening) for meals and other community resources that the city could utilize in effort to reduce this problem.
And this isn’t an option? Then what is?
What is happening here is unjust and a form if harassment. Hell,, it may even be bullying. And,eventually someone and not homeless have to answer for it.
Damon Woods says
And, what is the solution. Manteca is about to build a homeless center building for Millions and yet, many think none of them will go there (except during a storm). There are solutions out there, but it really involves government working with Non profits to solve this issue. I don’t profess to know the answer, but this article points out to a prospect that Government should fix it. I have heard there are generally 3 types of reasons people are homeless (likely there are many more): Mental Health issues, drugs, circumstances (finances hit a bad patch, lost a job, lost a home, unable to pay rent)…. the circumstancial issue is the easiest to address, mental health issue is a bit difficult given Government getting in the way and Drugs- well, again, difficult until the user realizes they have a problem. There are communities across the USA that have found solutions… and Government isn’t the only option.
Eric Caine says
Mr. Woods: Like most everyone who comments on homelessness you ignore several well-established facts. Here are two (1) We have a severe housing shortage (2) We haven’t nearly enough services or facilities to serve the mentally ill. I have listed many more factors in dozens of articles. Doesn’t matter. Facts are the last thing our leaders respond to.
Well said,Mr.Caine. Truth is, no matter what solution is discovered it won’t work until Stanislaus board of directors and those in kind Do so first.
We can provide several options, give plenty direction towards an end to the epidemic growing daily. But what good does it do without those in place for making our solutions… Answers? The honest question is What are those given the option to change the problem willing to do to change?
I would like to add, that this won’t be the first time. But in respect for my opinion I ask it be published. Don’t take my freedom of speech. My comments aren’t in any way disrespectful. Kind regards,
Eric Caine says
Eucelia: Not sure what you mean about taking your freedom of speech or disrespectful comments. We publish almost everything our readers submit, with some exceptions only because they are repetitively long, obscene, or spam. We welcome your comments.
Eucelia Fritch says
As I’ve noticed. I do appreciate your staff considering my opinion. I am; after all, A Resident of Stanislaus County.
Forgive me for my last comment. I made assumptions based on previous editors bias judgment.
I thank you,