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Homelessness in South Placer subject of Aug. 16 meeting

By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Know and Go

What: Placer County strategic meeting on homelessness

When: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16

Where: Maidu Community Center, 1550 Maidu Drive, Roseville

Placer County residents have a chance to weigh in on a complicated and emotional issue Aug. 16 when the county department of Health and Human Services holds a meeting in Roseville about the homeless.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting’s purpose at the Maidu Center in Roseville is to get feedback from the community as the county puts together a strategic plan to address homelessness, according to Katie Combs-Prichard, a spokeswoman for the Placer County Department of Health and Human Services.

“We’re encouraging any members of the community to attend,” Combs-Prichard said. “This is one of several meetings in the planning process. There are also conversations scheduled with provider groups, such as the Placer Consortium on Homelessness, and members of the homeless and formerly homeless community along with other stakeholders.”

Combs-Prichard said the meeting will start with a summary of the county’s current homeless-focused activities and then proceed to questions from the audience before breaking into smaller discussion groups.

“We are looking for community input on how the community perceives homelessness as well as future solutions,” Combs-Prichard said. “Questions raised will include how homelessness has impacted residents’ lives and businesses as well as how they perceive the needs of the homeless.”

Roseville resident Nancy Griffin has strong feelings about the issue in her community. Griffin said she checked a week ago on a well-known homeless camp in central Roseville.

“It’s right downtown and 100 feet from my living room,” Griffin said Friday. “I went down with the police and took pictures. It was a rat’s nest of a camp.”

Griffin said she is a proponent of reporting campsites and added that the “Roseville Police Department is as responsive as any can be,” and her intent is not to criticize law enforcement efforts to restrict public camping.

“I want to enlighten the general public and put pressure on our public officials,” Griffin said. “There is (inconsistent) enforcement and a different willingness to enforce from different people.”

The downtown Roseville homeless camp Griffin visited, located underneath the Lincoln Street Bridge, was cleaned up but she doesn’t expect that to last.

“I have no doubt the camp will fill up again; it’s an ongoing frustration for me,” Griffin said. “Some of the general public seems to have sympathy for people who are breaking the law and destroying public property. My property values and safety are compromised by these people. I know there is a middle ground, this inequity can’t continue.”

Keith Diederich, Chief Executive Officer of The Gathering Inn, said the Aug. 16 meeting is a strategic planning session designed to get input from the community. The Gathering Inn, located at 201 Berkeley Ave., Roseville, operates the only emergency shelter for the homeless in South Placer.

Diederich encouraged Roseville residents to attend the meeting.

“I think community meetings are very important for the public,” Diederich said Friday. “Homelessness is a complex issue and is a symptom for many things: economics, addiction and mental illness.”

“Placer County takes a very proactive approach and is not ignoring the issue; the community meeting is a good example of that. Enforcement only does not solve it.”

Placer County residents who are unable to attend one of these meetings are asked to share their thoughts on the impacts of homelessness in their community and potential solutions by emailing scott@thurmondconsultingllc.com.