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Fullerton homeless encampment forced to clear out

June 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A homeless encampment in Fullerton is being cleared out, and dozens of people who call it home have to leave.

Everything Diana Karman owns was piled into the back of a volunteer's pickup truck on Friday. Two days ago, the 55-year-old mother of four was told she had to leave her homeless encampment.

"It's not fair, we're homeless. I didn't ask to be homeless. My husband died," said Karman.

The 48-hour notice came with a list of resources.

"I got the paper. I got the whole list of them, but the shelters are full," said Karman.

The makeshift encampment stretches along a railroad track, which sits next to a building housing what used to be the Hunt Branch Library in Fullerton. Last week, the building was leased to a church group. That's when police moved in, telling roughly 50 to 80 people that they had to leave.

"I am going underground to a tunnel. That is the only place that I think I can put my tent up. It's the only option we have. We have no place to go," said Lillian Martin.

The Fullerton Police Department was rocked by charges against three officers in the July 2011 beating death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man. Following the public outcry, the police department took steps to redeem its image. All of its officers underwent specialized training in mental illness and homelessness. A mental health clinician was also assigned to patrol with its homeless liaison officer.

"They wanted to look good because of what they did. Now that's over with. Now it's time to get rid of us. So yeah, they're going backwards," said Karman.

Volunteers with Coast to Coast Foundation are helping people move much of their belongs to storage lockers and to new camps. Twice a month, the organization would show up to feed the homeless there.

"We're going to regroup and try to figure out what we've heard today and then we will go there, and we will make sure to serve them where ever they're at," said Maria Avena with Coast to Coast Foundation.


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