Homeless Exiled from Encampment Continue to Seek Permanent Shelter

Homeless Exiled from Encampment Continue to Seek Permanent Shelter

Max Rodriguez

It was the check-out day for the people removed from the homeless encampment after a 28-day hotel stay, but their next move is still to be determined as the county’s homeless programs staff continues to work with them to find a permanent stay.

Juree David has had a rough few months, she lived in the encampment near Highway 86 and Dillon Road was destroyed by the state for hazardous reasons, but she said that place was home, “At least I felt safe, and I knew who my neighbors were and we all cared about each other and looked out for each other.” 

As a temporary fix she was placed along with 60 others in motels in Indio, but the 28-day stay they were given came to an end on Tuesday, and her future continues to seem uncertain.

She said, “Not knowing what the next step is, we fill out paperwork, we do what’s asked of us.”

Trucks filled with belongings left the City Center Motel at 11 AM.

Christian Jelmberg is the founder of the Street Life Project and he helped the group through the moving process. He is not contracted by the county but he has developed relationships with many in the group. People like David feel comfortable with him and they share their concerns about the next moves.

Some in the group will have to check-in at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission for yet another temporary stay. Some others will stay at a hotel, while the county said a few have been offered a long-term home.

David might have to stay at the shelter, she said, “They mean well and they do help a lot of people, but the way it is set up I don’t think I will feel comfortable staying there.”

The Coachella Valley Rescue Mission serves over 900 free meals every day, and they offer a cool place to sleep and a place to shower.

The executive director, Darla Burkett said they are a transitional place and the goal is to find jobs and homes for those who are displaced.

Burkett said, “We are going to help those that we can, that are waiting as you can see outside, they have a lot of belongings with them so we’re working with the other agencies to try to get them placed.”

The Riverside County Homeless Programs Manager, Jill Kowalski said they continue to work on finding them housing, and eventually enter them into job training programs. But it is a challenge when everyone faces different needs, such as Jose Chavez, he said he is disabled for a couple of reasons, and one of them is a heart condition.

“My heart surgery was in 2016, so it is difficult to find a job that way,” Chavez said. “We would love to get jobs; we would love to get our record straightened-up and get off the streets and live like normal human beings in a home.”

But finding a home is easier said than done according to Kowalski. They said in order to find available apartments in the desert they have to compete with the open market. She said the landlord would also have to work with the county’s housing programs.