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'As of last month, $80,000 just in staff time' | The cost of homeless camp removals

Cleanups are different based on which agency conducts them

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Around Sacramento, some homeless encampments have been cleared, most notably on the side of X street. However, the camp removals come with some steep costs.

“I think that there is a misconception that a cleanup is always associated with moving people and often it is, but it isn’t always. Sometimes, it’s actually at the request of the camper because they don’t always have somewhere to put trash,” said Janna Haynes, spokesperson for Sacramento County.

Cleanups can be prompted by any public or private industry, according to Sacramento County. They are most commonly conducted to clear critical infrastructure or upcoming projects. Those are some of the reasons Sacramento County will initiate a cleanup.

The county also stores items for people for 90 days.

“There are 42 hours to 72 hours notice given, and that looks like not only an actual posting of a paper of when and where the cleanup will happen but actual employees going out and making contact with the campers,” said Haynes.

Cleanups are different based on which agency conducts them. For the Reclamation District 1000, General Manager Kevin King said in July it became weekly, solely removing trash and debris so it doesn’t go into the waterways.

“As of last month, we’ve spent about $80,000 just in staff time,” said King.

It’s the equivalent of one full-time employee’s salary for the year. There are additional costs for disposing trash which is around $80,000. Plus, the cost of security to make sure the levees are clear.

“$300 to $350,000 a year, in contrast, five years ago this expense was less than $20,000 a year and largely unbudgeted and considered an agency expense,” said King.

Homeless advocates like Bob Erlenbusch take issue when cleanups occur and no resources are provided.

“Like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, it does nothing to address the crisis of homelessness in our state,” said Erlenbusch.

He argues the money spent on cleanups could be better used for resources.

ABC10 reached out to Caltrans on the frequency and cost of cleanups, but have not heard back. However, they requested $20 million over the next two years for this. ABC10 also contacted Amtrak officials, but is still awaiting a response.


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