Salinas has started cleaning up areas near the Salinas Sports Complex
Story and Photos By Carlos Rene Castro
Next to the Salinas Sports Complex is Sherwood Park, where the homeless have lived in an encampment for some time. On Aug. 9, residents of the Sherwood Park encampment were evicted by the City of Salinas. Unhoused residents were seen in distress packing their belongings in the back of their cars and shopping carts as they map out their next move.
“Everything is all calm and cool here. Last thing we need is any mixups,” said Raul Vela, who has been living in Sherwood Park since before the beginning of the pandemic. Vela said he has found a sense of community during his time there. “When I started staying here … the same people who were here last time made it easier to adapt,” said Vela. “You know how some people are. Where this person comes from and their background has made it easier to help each other.”
The City of Salinas warned encampment residents of eviction with help of social workers and outreach services before Monday morning. Some were lucky to find temporary housing at local motels and homeless shelters. However, many struggled to find a temporary home as they were never contacted by officials.
Agents of Change is a local organization that formed in June 2020 after the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. Initially, the program started as a community involvement project and BLM support, but their focus has changed to allied support for the Salinas/ Monterey County Homeless Union.
The Salinas organization staged a counter-action to defend the community of Sherwood Park against eviction. Members of Agents of Change offered their support by providing food and beverages and giving Sherwood Park residents a hand moving personal belongings out of their tents.
River Navaille, a member of Agents of Change since October 2020, focuses specifically on homeless issues. “The reason why they are sweeping Sherwood right now is for the Rodeo,” said Navaille. “They are prioritizing people out of town and finding ways to make money off these showy events.”
Navaille is familiar with the residents at Sherwood Park. She has visited the encampment many times, including this past Friday. “There is a young man who just turned 18 and his dad who lived out here for three to four years,” said Navaille. “The young man and his father just got placed in a motel program.”
The motel is temporary housing, for only 28 days. However, having a temporary place to stay came with a price for the father and son duo. “The dad has a girlfriend. She doesn’t have a photo ID so she is not allowed in the hotel room,” said Navaille. “Consider that as a choice people are having to make.”
Rodeo goers will soon enough enjoy the three-day event at the Salinas Sports Complex. However, in the meantime, Sherwood Park community members are in anguish as they say goodbye to their home.
Have something to say about this story? Send us a letter.