Homeless Camper 32 Years on the River

That is the astounding claim that emerges from this story in the Sacramento Bee and reinforces what people with knowledge about illegal camping in the Parkway have known for a long time; illegal camping has been a problem for decades and is still without an effective solution from public leadership.

An excerpt.

Henderson told Warren he’s lived along this stretch of Arcade Creek for two years. His hands were covered in white dust from the boulders stacked up to the base of the road above, where he’d moved his tent when the creek rose. He remembered Warren drove a Grand Prix lowrider back in the day, he said, as he caught Warren up on his life.

He was clear and articulate, and said he didn’t use drugs. He worked with a local carnival company cooking turkey legs, but it was seasonal work. A couple of years ago, he went through a bad divorce. He ended up without a place to live.

“It just hit,” Henderson said. “I don’t know. I didn’t have anywhere to go. … So I came out here.”

Back in his Maserati SUV, driving a few blocks away through the neighborhood he grew up in, Warren said tales like Henderson’s were all too common in this section of Sacramento, one he calls the “toughest in the city,” where destiny and geography often seem unfairly linked.

In Del Paso Heights and surrounding areas, “we’ve all got people challenged in our families,” Warren said. He grew up with seven sisters in a 900-square-foot house walking distance from Arcade Creek. If he hadn’t had enough skill with the bat and stealing bases to play on farm teams for the Yankees, who knows?

“It could have very easily been me,” said Warren.

On a nearby levee above a park where Warren’s dad played softball when he was a kid, a homeless man who calls himself Hawaiian Joe is sleeping on the asphalt without even a blanket after his gear washed away. He’s been on the river for 32 years, he said.


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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