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September 15, 2012
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Community comes together for homeless camp cleanup

Volunteers hauled mounds of garbage — and even several vehicles — away from a homeless encampment off Coyote Street just outside Nevada City Friday morning.

“This is a beautiful piece of land,” said Sonya Gonzales, who has camped on the property for the last two years. “But this was disgusting … It was not right.”

Gonzales said she has worked at cleaning up the camp for the last year and a half, calling it an ongoing process.

On Friday, she got some much-needed help from Sierra Roots, Hospitality House, Waste Management and the Nevada County Food Bank, as well as a number of other volunteers.

“This is the most (people) I’ve seen up here cleaning,” Gonzales said. “It’s a community effort.”

“I wanted to pitch in and help out because I remember this area from a long time ago,” said volunteer Robert Day. “It broke my heart, seeing people living out here … It’s been haunting me.”

Sean Brodigan, who is homeless, was busy pitching in as well, hauling mounds of trash down a trail through the manzanita bushes.

He moved to Nevada County just a week and a half ago and has been staying at Hospitality House, he said, adding, “I’ve just been beating the pavement.”

Another round of cleaning has been planned starting at 8 a.m. Monday, said former Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum, who was at the site picking up trash while clad in a painter’s protective suit and face mask.

There are a number of homeless camps — or tent cities — on the outskirts of Grass Valley and Nevada City; there have been ongoing efforts to clean up some of the more established sites, such as one on Bennett Street in Grass Valley and the Coyote Street camp.

Both Senum and Gonzales said a lot of the trash at the Nevada City site that was collected was not from the homeless campers but was from public dumping on the mostly vacant land.

“We just want to let property owners know we’re willing to come in and clean these sites up,” Senum said.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call (530) 477-4229.

“It broke my heart, seeing people living out here ... It’s been haunting me.”


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The Union Updated May 7, 2014 07:01PM Published Sep 18, 2012 06:54AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.