Over 60 people were removed from a homeless encampment near Dillion Road and Highway 86 in early May, with part of the intention was to find permanent housing for them, but almost a month later some of those displaced are nowhere near finding a long-term stay and their temporary fix is running out.
The data from the Riverside County’s “point in time” shows a decrease of homelessness by four percent compared to 2017, but those numbers mean nothing to the people displaced.
Carene Riale lived for over a year at the encampment, she said, “We had a shack; we didn’t have a tent, an actual shack that he built himself, it was sturdy and held up with wind, everything.”
But it did not hold-up to the power of the state, Caltrans owns the land and they were removed by early May.
Riale said, “It’s frustrating for us because we just want a place to go, we said maybe we should come back here and camp again.”
Nora Soliz was another person who was removed from the encampment; she shared a tent with her husband David Rodriguez. Soliz said, “They day they were removing us, we ended up in City Center Motel.”
She said the group was split into three motels down Indio Boulevard. They were able to store a portion of their belongings inside a storage unit that still sits roadside of Highway 86.
Michael Brown was also removed early May, he is not sure when he will see his belongings again, or when he will have a stable home.
Brown said, “They had promised that we would have hotel vouchers until we had our housing and now come Tuesday everybody is getting kicked out.”
Where do they go next? That was the real question on Saturday morning among a handful of people who used to live in the encampment, as they broke bread from food donations by the Sheppard of the Valley Methodist Church in Indio.
David Rodriguez said he and his wife were told they could have access to long-term housing, he said, “We were approved for permanent housing but we have not looked at any places or gone anywhere with them, so we don’t know, all we know is that we have to check-out at 11 o’clock Tuesday morning.”
They said communication has not been direct with county staff or Path of Life Ministries, a non-profit out of Riverside that is helping the group. And that concerns Soliz, she is worried the confusion will circle her back into the streets, she said, “We know it’s not what the law wants from us, but we don’t have anywhere else to go.”
The homeless programs manager for Riverside County, Jill Kowalski, responded to KMIR News through email, she said they will continue to work with people who need temporary housing beyond Tuesday.