Fresno: Where the Disappearing Blankets and Tents Went

NOTES BY NORSE:  Santa Cruz homeless activists have long demanded that Santa Cruz store rather than discard homeless property.   I have had conflicting accounts of whether this is done, but rarely of people being able to reclaim their property.  More recently a camper near “Nasty’s Camp”, the camp targeted by SCPD and sheriffs for seizure of their (legally grown) marijuana crop [ ]  reported all her property twice stolen and dumped by workers affiliated with the city though she wasn’t charged with anything.

Santa Cruz is a much smaller community than Fresno and reclaiming property should be easier.  Simply citing state law and the constitution clearly doesn’t do the trick if you don’t have the power of people on the street and perhaps attorneys behind you.  Still I encourage any Santa Cruz homeless person who’s had her property taken by police post their accounts of whether they were able to reclaim it or not.  Public exposure is much cheaper than trying to find legal help–though the possibility of Small Claims Court is still open.
Where Hope Goes to Die

These photos show where the City of Fresno is temporarily storing property taken from homeless people during the sweeps over the last two months.



The large blue tarps flap in the wind and catch your eye as you drive down south down H street, on your way to the center of downtown Fresno. Few people know that this small city of blue topped storage containers is where the City of Fresno, complying with a Federal court order, has brought the confiscated property of homeless people, as they fled the destruction of their humble shelters. Today, the police are confiscating shopping carts filled with homeless people’s property and adding those to the collection – even if the owner of the property just left their property in front of the Poverello House while they got a bite to eat.This confiscation of homeless peoples property started about 2 months ago with the demolitions of downtown Fresno homeless encampments. It continues today as the police and city workers round up homeless people’s property and lock it away behind a barbed wire fence, guarded 24 hours a day/7 days a week, with very little chance that it will be given back to its owners.

Even when homeless people are with their property, on the streets of Fresno, they are harassed by the police. In an incident that happened about a week ago, a group of homeless people were given “debris in road” citations. The “debris” was their blankets, food, and other items they need to survive.

There is little chance that homeless people who lost all of their belongings in these raids by the police and city workers will be able to re-claim their property, because there is no place in the city that is currently safe for them to keep it. Nobody can carry everything they need to survive with them all day/every day. Therefore, the “technical” compliance with the Federal court order is simply a cover for the city’s ongoing policy of taking and destroying homeless peoples property, endangering their health, and decreasing their overall quality of life.

For information about what homeless advocates are doing to respond to this crisis, see:



§These Shopping Carts Were Taken From the Homeless

by Mike Rhodes Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 5:31 PM



§Sign Identifying Who the Property was Taken From

by Mike Rhodes Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 5:31 PM



Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Kit Williams

Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 7:44 PM

The sergeant of the police task force charged with following the homeless to ensure that they do not resettle anywhere told me that the police were taking the shopping carts because the carts belonged to stores and would be returned to them, their rightful owners. Apparently this isn’t true, as the carts remain lined up beside the storage containers. Are store owners clamoring for the return of their property? I’ve read nothing that indicates they are.The receipt given to a homeless person whose property is confiscated says clearly (on the bottom of the form) that a photo of the property is placed on the reverse side of the form. I have yet to see a single photo of any property.

The idea that the City is complying with the court order is clearly a farce. At the end of ninety days, the property, if unclaimed, can be discarded by the City. If the City isn’t doing so, it’s undoubtedly because they don’t have the resources (the personpower) to do so, not because they are holding it out of the goodness of their hearts.

The idea that a homeless person is capable of reclaiming their property before the end of the ninety day period is likewise a farce, as this article states. Because they are homeless (and lack vehicles), they have no way to transport their belongings and no place to put them were they able to reclaim and transport them.

It is time for all of us to stand up to the City, to insist on both emergency and transitional housing, for safe and legal campgrounds, for some form of housing for those without shelter of any kind. Contact your City Council member now!

The temperatures are dropping into the 40s, into the range at which people can suffer from hypothermia. Can the City be held liable or found culpable in the deaths of any homeless people who have had the most basic of shelters torn from them? A possible question worth exploring ….

by paulal

Sunday Nov 3rd, 2013 9:27 PM

It looks like it would be impossible for a person to find their belonging in those big containers.