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Officials flush homeless Californians out of furnished caves hidden along river
Image composite: YouTube video, KOVR-TV - Screenshots

Officials flush homeless Californians out of furnished caves hidden along river

Officials have removed groups of apparent troglodytes from furnished caves in Modesto.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's California leads the nation in homelessness. Last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development revealed that the Democrat-controlled state is home to at least 28% of the nation's homeless — roughly 181,3999 people. HUD indicated further that 123,423 people in the state were "unsheltered."

In an apparent effort to avoid being counted among that second cohort, some Californians have literally gone underground.

Officials in Modesto recently ousted homeless people who had been living in several elaborate and furnished caves along the Tuolumne River. Some of the caves carved into the riverside bluffs sat around twenty feet below unsuspecting motorists and quiet neighborhoods.

"They're building some interesting caves," Brian Brandenburg, a nearby resident who takes his dogs along the river, told KXTV-TV. "Honestly, I just started laughing and said how creative they were."

Photographs taken inside the caves show silty ceilings laminated with plastic sheeting; painted walls; blanketed bedding and nooks to sleep in; tables; decorations; and shelving units.

A nearby resident, Tracy Rojas, told KOVR-TV that drugs and weapons were also found in the caves.

"I know it's dangerous, but they're also out in the elements," said Brandenburg. "What's (more) dangerous? Freezing or starving, or living in a cave that I'm sure they know how they build an they know how sturdy it's going to be?"

Granted the dwellings were illegal, structurally unsound, and brimming with filth, officials were forced to take action over the weekend. The Modesto Police Department worked with a local community volunteer group to clean up an area especially pockmarked by the "vagrancy and illegal camps."

According to police, the troglodytes dwelling in the subterranes around the Crater Avenue and Dallas Street area were notified well in advance of the clean-up operation. Modesto Police’s Community Health and Assistance Team also reportedly offered those in the caves assistance with their transition.

The clean-up crew ultimately found and disposed of 7,600 lbs of trash along with two truckloads and a trailer of garbage.

KXTV reported that the clean-up crew ultimately found eight caves, some as wide as 10 feet.

Barricades have since been installed to prevent people from returning to the caves.

The City of Modesto said in a statement, "In addition, the area will see an increase of law enforcement, fire department, and City staff to assist in monitoring the area. Upon request, City personnel can provide information and resources to those who may need shelter and social services."

"The City recognizes the importance of not only addressing the immediate safety risks but also working towards a comprehensive solution to permanently eliminate these caves. Our commitment is to navigate this situation with diligence, taking into account the structural safety of the surrounding areas," added the city.

This is not the first time in recent years that vagrants have created tunnels and caves in the area. After discovering hazardous shelters carved into the embankment, Modesto cleared out the riverside in 2022.

"A fence is not going to stop this," Sean Sisemore, a resident nearby, told KOVR. "Give them a place to live."

According to Stanislaus Community System of Care, as of May 2023, there were over 2,000 homeless people living in the Stanislaus County, where Modesto is based. 1,642 of the homeless were located in the City of Modesto.

45% of the homeless surveyed indicated they had spent time in jail or prison. 101 veterans were among the homeless population. 23% of the adult homeless population was mentally ill; 16% were addicts; 12% were victims of domestic violence; and 2% had HIV/AIDS.

Here's a look at homeless-constructed caves found along Tuloumne Riveryoutu.be

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News. He lives in a small town with his wife and son, moonlighting as an author of science fiction.
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