A man who set up tents for the homeless in Whittier complete with Wi-Fi said he was just trying to help, but the city said it’s clear the tents were put up for profit after a Craigslist ad was marketing them for $400 a month.
The manager of the tents, set up on the greenbelt next to busy Whittier Boulevard, said he is not moving them even though the state ordered he pack up by Thursday.
“In the morning, we open them up, and they can charge their phone. There’s a place to sit down in there and get some water,” Mark Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said his tents are providing a service to the homeless. He provides power via solar panels, and Wi-Fi.
But the California Highway Patrol sees it as a safety issue, due to the proximity to fast-traveling traffic on the boulevard.
CalTrans also owns the land, and jointly with the CHP ordered Gutierrez to remove them. The mayor of Whittier, Joe Vinatieri, and another council member expressed outrage on social media after discovering the ad.
Gutierrez however says the order to vacate isn’t valid, and he claims he never put up the Craigslist ad, which has since been taken down.
The city said it’s clear the intent was to rent out the tents for profit, though Gutierrez denies this.
“I think this is someone who was taking advantage of a situation for their own profit. My family and I provide some assistance to homeless in different ways, but we definitely do not do it for our own profit,” said councilwoman Cathy Warner.
The city said it’s working with the homeless people who’ve set up other tents next to Gutierrez’s, and those will be relocated.
But the souped-up Wi-Fi and solar-powered tents have to be gone by Thursday, according to the state order.