Hard to believe it can get any worse, but, according to this article from Sacramento News & Review, it has.
Highway 160 is Sacramento’s gateway. It’s a route many people will take to get to the much touted “Downtown 3.0,” and the shiny new Kings arena. But it’s also a window into our homelessness crisis.
The sights that greet visitors as the freeway zigzags through the north side, then shoots into the heart of the city, include: men and woman pushing shopping carts, an abandoned gas station, people loitering on street corners, a sex shop, Loaves & Fishes and its homeless-services facilities, and a triangle-shaped lot dressed with weeds and litter. Welcome to Sacramento.
And this is not to mention the things and people you don’t see on the drive into downtown: men—and some women—underneath the freeway and tucked amid the brush and trees of the American River Parkway.
John Quinones is one of those people. He says he’s been homeless in Sacramento going on 13 years. On a recent Friday afternoon, he was readying his campsite underneath Highway 160 for a wet and windy storm on the horizon. He boiled a pot of water atop a small fire. He also cleared the bluff near his tent of sharp metal debris, which he said somebody dumped a few weeks earlier. Heavy winds actually pluck these sheaths from the parkway ground and shoot them at his campsite, he said.
Quinones had a normal life before he was forced to the streets. He explained something about a family member getting into serious legal trouble. “And then it kind of fell apart. It’s a long story,” he said, a common refrain.
This past week, Quinones wasn’t alone on the strip of parkway near Highway 160 at Northgate Boulevard. SN&R counted 57 campsites in the area, most with tents. The majority were out of sight, hidden from main roads or the levees, tidy and clean—but the few eyesore campsites, thrashed and riddled with garbage, leave an impression.
County rangers do come by, occasionally, ushering people to move on. But not as often as they’ve done in the past.