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Caltrans clearing homeless encampments near Interstate 5

Posted at 6:11 PM, May 22, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Tents near the highway are a common sight when driving south on Interstate 5 and getting off at Imperial Avenue.

Many of the people were camped out on 17th street, a city property. They have moved to a grass area, which CHP said is state property.

ABC 10 News spotted Caltrans clearing out some of the tents on 17th Street and C Street on Wednesday.

"It is very difficult for us. It is hard waking up every morning when this happens. Getting cleared out from the space we are calling home," Xaz Willcuts said.

Willcuts, who is a Vet Tech, said she was living on city sidewalks. But then when San Diego’s Unsafe Camping ordinance went into effect last year, she moved to side of the highway.

"I will go on Indeed or websites like that to find work. I don’t get a call back. I get an interview and don’t get a call back. Finding work right now is tough. That’s why I am homeless," Willcuts said.

Willcuts says the city’s safe sleeping sites are usually full. She says she is running out of options.

"I would like Caltrans just to be a little more patient with us. We are doing the best we can. We are trying to keep the areas clean. We are doing the best we can despite the little space that we do have," Willcuts said.

Caltrans said when it prepares to remove an encampment, social service providers conduct outreach to connect people experiencing homelessness with essential services and available housing.

The removal happens when the encampment is a threat to people or infrastructure.

Officials from Caltrans told ABC 10News that they do have data on where encampments have been removed or those that wil be cleaned. They also said Caltrans partner with city and county outreach services depending on the location.