SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Friday was move out or else day at the massive homeless encampment along Joe Rodota Trail in Santa Rosa. But, what took many months to build does not go away in a day, and neither do the people.
Whether by accident or anger, homeless camp moving day started with a tent fire, a tent that was not occupied. When day came, many had already left, setting out for parts unknown, but likely to be far more secluded as in a creek bed or the woods.
But many remained behind, hoping to be one of the lucky few to get a shed, a shelter bed or a motel voucher. It's almost assured that 250 of those are NOT available.
"Recognizing, you know, our system has a capacity right now so, fitting them to the best fit available. And, if we reach a point where we don't have capacity in our system, that's why our board has dedicated $12 million to creating more capacity," said Jennifer Larocque, a Sonoma County spokesperson.
The county will temporarily store two of the free, large, wheeled plastic totes for each person, if they wish. A shuttle will take those that do not want or cannot be accommodated.
Trisha, we'll call her, for example, was waiting for a county shuttle to take her and her fiancee she knows. Her newborn infant is in the care of Child Protection Services. For her, a shed is out of the question.
"You can't be with your significant other which is definitely a problem for me," said Trisha.
While her finance looked for a place, she was told to clear the area.
"And I'm not supposed to lift more than ten pounds right now because I just had a baby, but I have to move definitely more than ten pounds because they're rushing me," she said.
It is, by any standard, a tough life.
"Very. Definitely, you're definitely on the go 24/7," said Trisha.
Daisy says, during her stay her, she has accumulated too much stuff, not including her dog who she fawns over.
"Now I gotta go back to, you know, bare minimum; what will be essential and what I don't want to carry with me everywhere or have her carry. Where are you going? Come on," she said looking at her dog.
For some of these folks, provided that they prefer housing and support, this could actually be a good thing. But, for so many more, this is nothing more than another whistlestop from encampment to eviction, to encampment to eviction, to encampment, to who knows what.