As the state tries to grapple with the increase of people living on the streets, a strategy to address drug use at a Palm Springs city park is getting mixed reactions from a local group who works with homeless people, as they worry the strategy is simply shuffling the homeless throughout the city.
The Palm Springs police are cracking down on illegal activity at Sunrise Park such as drug use or loitering by setting a mobile command post at the park, but some said the enforcement may be targetting the dozens of homeless people who used to sleep there.
The people who slept at Sunrise Park are virtually gone, the director of the Boys and Girls Park that’s adjacent to the park as well as the manager of the Palm Springs Power enjoy a less crowded park. But Kurt who sleeps in different parts of the city said if they cannot sleep at the park, people will sleep somewhere else.
“Palm Springs naturally have no other option really besides to migrate towards the strip,” Kurt said.
He said his housing options are limited as a single man and with no known disability, he said it makes it difficult to qualify for limited subsidized housing and stability.
Kurt said, “It’s very hard to get a job or at least show up to a job interview in clean clothes, showered, fed and mentally stable to be your best.”
Christian Jelmberg with the Street Life Project, an organization that helps bring services directly to homeless people, said he understands the city’s need to clear the park of illegal activity but what he sees is a ‘homeless shuffle’.
“Displacing somebody from a location and expecting things to get better,” Jelmberg said.
He said the county officials have already spent millions of funds in collecting data for possible solutions but with the newly-awarded $10 million from the state, Jelmberg wants to tangible solutions.
“I don’t think getting people in just a rental and calling it good is the best idea,” Jelmberg said. “Especially when they’re displacing homeless camps left and right, it creates a very hard environment to give them the needed services.”
Jelmberg said a tiny home campus would be a game-changer in addressing the homeless problem. Dale Llamas who has been homeless for the last six years said a place to sleep, eat and get cleaned is what he needs most.
Llamas said, “Utilize it for a building, somewhere where you can keep us all congregated maybe have classes and schooling.”
In the meantime, Jelmberg said he will continue to share ideas with the city, especially for a tiny home campus as he said that could be a permanent answer to the problem and help get homeless people back on their feet.