SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KRON) – The largest homeless encampment in the city of San Rafael, located under the 101 freeway, was being dismantled by Caltrans Tuesday.
Caltrans crews showed up early in the morning to begin clearing the encampment that had been made up of dozens of tents spread underneath the freeway in Central San Rafael and some former residents are angry about it.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how Marin County treats are homeless, we’re an eyesore, we’re not people anymore,” a resident said.
Courtney Huff is one of the lucky ones — She says was placed in a hotel room a few days ago.
“I’m crushed as usual but I’m used to it,” Christal Gift said.
Christal Gift couldn’t bear to watch the dismantling of her teepee that she said served as both her home and a church for the community she’s lived among for about a year.
“When you’re homeless you build up your home, just when you to start feeling comfortable, you got everything nice and neat, you have to crush it,” Gift said.
Caltrans says there’s been a year over year doubling for reports of fires, violent crime, and theft in this area.
Officials say more than half of those living here took up the offer of moving into new tents in what’s being called a Service Support Area.
It’s also under the freeway about a block away but with restrooms and security — It’s a collaboration with Caltrans and the city of San Rafael.
“It’s going to lead us to a path of finding permanent housing and it is great. We know where they are, we can help them and what services they need, for example, we have electrical outlets they can charge their phones on so their caseworkers can call them and get a hold of them,” an officer said.
While Christal is still sad about her teepee being demolished and doesn’t like the idea of being fenced in, she accepted a tent at the service support area.
While the service support area is a temporary solution, last month the San Rafael City Council voted to vet the idea of launching its own safe sleeping pilot program.