Visalia Times Delta
A large homeless encampment along Highway 99 in the heart of Tulare is being cleared weeks after an unsheltered person died while crossing the busy thoroughfare on foot.
Cal Trans, California Highway Patrol, Tulare Police Department, homeless service providers and local leaders were all involved in the $60,000-clean-up effort that removed more than 30 people and hundreds of pounds of debris from the side of the highway, near the Prosperity Boulevard exit.
Councilmembers applauded the clean-up on Friday while expressing the need to find long-term solutions for the city’s homeless residents. Councilman Jose Sigala said. “The task ahead is finding housing for these individuals.”
Cal Trans officials said that in light of the coronavirus pandemic encampments are not typically cleared unless there’s a place for the displaced people to go.
An exception was made for the Prosperity camp because of the recent death of one of its residents, officials said.
Tulare city leaders said the answer may rest in working with the county and state to purchase a local motel and convert it into permanent supportive housing through California’s Project Homekey initiative.
“We’re still fighting for a hotel,” Sigala said. “Visalia has one, Fresno has several while Tulare keeps getting skipped over.”