Orange County's Largest Homeless Encampment To Be Cleared Out

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Authorities plan to clear out Orange County's largest homeless encampment, removing nearly 500 people living in a tent city along three miles of the Santa Ana river bed in an operation that may get underway today, it was reported.

Posted signs at the Santa Ana River Trail warn that the end is imminent, and six shipping containers have been placed strategically, ready to store tons of personal belongings once the mass exodus begins, the Orange County Register reported. Police and outreach workers have increased their foot patrols in recent weeks, telling inhabitants that it's time for them to leave.

All that's left now is for county workers to begin the onerous process of clearing out the notorious, three-mile-long tent city, the newspaper reported.

The county's implementation strategy calls for dozens of sheriff's deputies and other county workers to descend beginning at 9 this morning on the encampments that stretch along the flood control channel from Ball Road in Anaheim to the I-5 freeway in Orange, according to the Register. But exactly when the camp's inhabitants will be forced to leave or where they'll go remains unclear.

That uncertainty has left homeless people, their advocates and neighboring residents wary, and in some cases fearful, about how the next couple of weeks will play out, the Register reported.

``I'll probably end up back in the streets of Anaheim,'' Matt Sileski, 34, a San Clemente native who has been homeless in the riverbed for six months, told The Register. ``Just like everybody else.''

County officials estimate their plan to clear the last and most entrenched riverbed homeless encampment could take anywhere from several days to a few weeks, according to the newspaper.

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