Manila wants something done about homeless encampments

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

MANILA – The sandy outpost of Manila wants something done about the homeless encampments that litter its dunes and forests.

The Manila Community Services District (Manila CSD) and Friends of the Dunes are sending a letter to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors asking that something be done about the problem.

Although it’s not clear exactly how many homeless people live in the area, some estimates peg the number at about 100, with most living in the area near Highway 255 and New Navy Base Road.

“We are finding a growing number of camps, along with structures being built as well as generating a significant amount of garbage and human waste. We also realize neighboring communities are feeling the impact of these encampments,” states the letter signed by Manila CSD Chair John Woolley and Friends of the Dunes Executive Director Carol Vander Meer.

The letter was unanimously approved by the Manila CSD Board of Directors at its meeting Thursday, Jan. 15.

“We believe this situation has become a human and environmental hazard in need of remediation. We respectfully request that the county look into addressing this issue as soon as possible,” the letter states.

“While we are drawing your attention to the environmental problems in the area, we are not blind to the human plight that can lead to this type of situation,” the letter continues. “That is why we encourage the county to provide services and assistance as necessary to people that may have found themselves in this unfortunate circumstance.”

The letter doesn’t specify what, exactly, the county should do about the problem.

“It’s a very complicated issue, as we all know,” Woolley said at the district meeting.

Manila resident and homeless advocate Edie Jessup told the board that she had just completed a training for the upcoming Point-In-Time biennial count of homeless people that will take place Jan. 28. That count may help identify the scope of the problem in the Samoa Peninsula, as well as elsewhere in the county.

“I think your letter is very respectful,” Jessup told the board.

The Manila board approved the letter 4-0, with Director Dendra Dengler abstaining because her home is adjacent to dunes property.


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