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‘We got focused’: Home Path seeks to inform people about safe campground concept

Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield was opposed to a campground for homeless people.

He still has concerns about it, but his opinion has shifted over the years, as the issue of homelessness has become exacerbated.

“I’m not sure how I would vote on it right now,” Scofield said.

That change is welcome for Home Path, a group focused on bringing a safe campground for homeless people to western Nevada County.

The group started last year, meeting for about six months before determining its goal and finding a name for itself.

“The agenda was to do something, so we got focused,” said Dick Law, a volunteer with the group. “Just a safe place for people to exist.”

Home Path now has a presentation it’s delivered to various groups. What’s changed the dynamic is the county’s plan for a homeless navigation center on Sutton Way.

“Our plan is fluid,” Law said.

For Katherine Doolittle, Home Path’s outreach director, it makes sense for a navigation center to serve as a hub for any campground. People could then access counseling, get help with Social Security and receive their medication, along with other services like getting a hot meal, shower and case management.

“That’s what the navigation center would be,” Doolittle said.

No specific site has been identified for the campground.

According to Doolittle, people need shelter and services. Having only one or the other isn’t enough.

“We need the services,” Law said. “We need the case workers.”

That’s a big reason why Home Path speaks to local groups and seeks support for its vision. Its members are working with the county, and county officials are encouraging it to make its presentations and gauge community interest.

“There is legitimacy there,” Scofield said. “I appreciate what they’re doing.”

A campground won’t solve the problem of homelessness, but it will help, Doolittle said.

As for those who might oppose a campground in their neighborhood — the Not In My Back Yard crowd — Law said the issue isn’t just in their backyard.

“It’s in your front yard,” he added. “So what do we say? We already have the problem. How do we fix it?”

Home Path is asking for people to endorse their plan, which they can do on its website — http://www.nchomepath.com.

Supervisor Hardy Bullock, who is involved in an east county effort to create a safe parking area for van lifers, likes the safe campground concept. He said the government, for valid reasons, takes away places to park, like on the side of a roadway, for example.

“When we take them away, we don’t give them any alternative,” he said.

“I support that 100%,” he said of both the safe parking and campground ideas.

Alan Riquelmy is the managing editor of The Union. He can be reached at ariquelmy@theunion.com or 530-477-4249


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