Two task forces have been employed to continue addressing the unhoused population in the city
ATASCADERO — The City of Atascadero has released a statement regarding a homeless encampment that has repeatedly appeared near the U.S. Highway 101 southbound offramp and Morro Road.
The encampment was previously addressed at the City Council meeting on July 11 by the new City Manager Jim Lewis. Lewis addressed the unhoused population and its encampment that has developed for a second time on the offramp. He expressed commitment to addressing concerns about a homeless encampment near southbound 101 and announced cleanup to begin shortly, followed by securing the area near Chevron Station for repairs to grounds, vegetation, and irrigation.
The same encampment first popped up in July of 2022. Then, city staff worked alongside the Atascadero Police Department (APD) and outreach programs to evacuate and clean up the same area. To read Atascadero News’ article about the evacuation and clean up of the area in its July 13, 2022, article, follow this link: atascaderonews.com/news/law-enforcement-evacuates-encampment-along-us-101
The City of Atascadero released an update to the clean-up efforts of the encampment. Working alongside the Atascadero Police Department (APD), Caltrans, and the California Highway Patrol, the city has “worked together to clean up and remove encampments at the Highway 101 and Morro Road on- and off-ramps due to public safety concerns,” per the press release.
The press release also says, “As a result of the assertive clean-up process, two unhoused individuals previously living in the now-cleared encampment accepted transitional housing, exemplifying the success of our community partnership as we strive to connect people experiencing homelessness with crucial services and shelter.”
In response to the homelessness crisis in Atascadero, APD has developed two task forces to provide assistance and services to the unhoused population: the CAT, for Community Action Team, and OUR Team, for Outreach for Underrepresented Residents. The goal of these teams will be to reduce homelessness within the city and work to lower the number of service calls related to the unhoused population.
Each team is comprosed of a uniformed officer, a licensed psychiatric technician (employed by County Behavioral Health) assigned to the CAT, and a social worker for the OUR Team. As part of OUR Team, the APD contracts with ECHO, the El Camino Homeless Organization, to provide homeless outreach services, case management, and programs within the city in direct coordination and partnership with APD.
The city stated the following regarding the unhoused community and crisis:
The City hears our residents and will utilize every option available to protect the health and safety of all Atascadero community members. Encampments will continue to be cleaned up and moved away from the central business districts and any residential neighborhood. The City will continue to find long term solutions that include seeking permanent housing for our homeless population. To that end, the first draft of a new camping ordinance will be introduced to Council in September.
A camping ordinance is an important tool for the City to continue lawfully addressing encampments, and the ordinance will largely address the time, manner, and place by which individuals may sleep or camp on public property to curtail activity such as setting up camp in City parks, which are closed in the evenings. The City thanks the public for their patience as we continue using every avenue available to clear encampments and connect folks with long-term resources and housing.
Atascadero News is following this story and will provide updates as they become available.