Antioch homeless given 72 hours to leave before camp is torn down

A deadline of Monday has been issued for a homeless camp in Antioch before it's torn down.

The camp is on private property near the intersection of 6th Street and McElheney Road, a few blocks east of downtown. 

It has been cleared of campers before, but people migrate back to the spot, and there are currently about 25 tents and tarps housing about 75 people. 

"I'm just going to sit when they personally come say something to me," Doris Dossman told KTVU on Wednesday, admitting she and others are nervous, even scared.

Dossman is an out-of-work hair stylist, who has been at the camp since January. 

"I don't get my social security until I'm 65, I just get food stamps, so this is it for me, but it's a really nice place," she said.  

The camp is nestled in a neighborhood with homes nearby, close enough to be within sight. 

"I've lived in Antioch 45 years, we've seen homeless all over, but never this bad," said neighbor Stacy Simpson, "and we can't even drive on the street because they're walking up and down the middle. I come in and I can't even park. It's just not right."   

The city has received complaints about noise and fights, trash and foot traffic. 

Under municipal code, the camp is considered blight and a hazard to the wetlands flowing to the San Joaquin River, a violation of health and safety standards. 

"Most of the time when I'm down here, people are screaming and arguing," admitted camper Thea Hendricks, who has lived on or near the property for six years. 

Hendricks says unsanitary conditions would be improved with Porta-potties and garbage service, but people are doing the best they can.   

"Do you think telling us to go to Pittsburg is going to make us go there? It's not. This is our home," said Hendricks, "and we're not all bad, stupid, drug addicts who don't do nothing." 

Some neighbors are sympathetic.

"Where are they all going to go?" posed Shelly Yoakem, who lives a few doors down from the camp.
"They're all going to be roaming up and down the street trying to find somewhere to go. I feel bad for a lot of them."

Because the camp is on private property, the city also plans to charge the land owner for the costs of clearing the site. 

"I've talked to the owner. We have his permission and his blessing to be here," camper David Hall told KTVU.

Hall is a Navy veteran, in the process of securing a voucher for an apartment, but it won't happen before Monday's deadline.   

"Our backs are against the wall. There's no place for us, no provisions for us," said Hall, "and they just want to make us disappear. My family is buried here, and I was born and raised here, I'm not going anywhere."  

But as eviction looms, at least one former camper has mixed feelings.

"I don't feel this place is safe, there's a lot of things going on here that shouldn't," said Julie Wasso, who recently left the camp, and sympathizes with neighbors. "I don't blame them, I wouldn't want this if I lived here either, but where are they gonna go?"  

An announcement from Antioch Community Development and Code Enforcement Divisions says that a 72-hour written notice of abatement will be posted on Thursday, and that social service and non-profit workers will be available to assist campers with shelter and services.