State agencies are working to address soaring homelessness in California.
Caltrans is asking for millions in state funding to clear homeless camps from highways while working on solutions to address homelessness.
“It’s just sad that it’s happening,” said Central Coast Resident Bernhard Batenhorst.
“We’ve noticed it. It seems like it’s getting a lot worse. I don’t know what the answer is—I feel sad for the people.”
To address the growing issue, Caltrans is asking for millions in additional funding from the state budget.
The agency is requesting a two-year increase of $20.6 million to remove homeless camps and hazardous materials from state property along highways and freeways.
Before removing a camp, Caltrans looks at whether it poses a threat.
This could be a camp blocking traffic, modifications to overpasses that increase the risk of collapse, or fire danger.
“Encampments along the state highway system not only put the individuals there at great risk but can also have direct impacts on the traveling public, nearby communities and the state’s infrastructure,” said Caltrans Senior Media Officer Edward Barrera.
The agency is asking for another $5.8 million over three years to create a homelessness solutions team of 30 members with seven two-year positions.
Barrera, also tells KSBY the team will “work with stakeholders, including representation from the unhoused community to identify long-term solutions in areas where encampment issues have been difficult to resolve.”
Moving homeless camps is also an ongoing issue for cities such as San Luis Obispo.
“The situation right now with the homeless is sad. The rain just took away all their homes that they have out there,” said SLO Resident Dan Ferguson, who sees the effects of homelessness nearly every day.
“When I leave work, I’ll see the police asking them to move their stuff, but there is no solution. They’re just moving them around the corner to find another spot for the night and the police just do it again. I just don’t think that’s the right way to go about it.”
Local agencies are ultimately responsible for housing homeless people that are found on state property.