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Tent Town Faces Shutdown

Jessica Flores

Tent Town Faces Shutdown

CREATED Mar. 20, 2012

INDIO-- A homeless camp in indio faces a shutdown. The encampment is illegally on tribal land belonging to the Agua Calient Band of Cahuilla Indians, and behind the One Stop Shoppe on Indio Boulevard.

Despite orders to leave, dozens of people there are staying put.

"We didn't know we were doing anything illegal at the time. Now we find out that we are tresspassing," said Russ Smith, who lives in the encampment.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs now plans to set up a chain link fence to keep out trespassers, but getting people off the land could be the problem. Indio police don't have juristicion there.

"We are reaching out and assisting with the social services portion of it. As far as law enforcement actions that is not our responsibility," said Indio Police Spokespers, Ben Guitron.

The encampment started about ten months ago. Even with the pressure to leave, about thirty people remain.

"I didn't want to have a homeless camp. I never planned to have a homeless camp," said shop owner Haki Dervishi.

Shop owner, Haki Dervishi, has provided bathrooms, water and shade to the homeless.

"I'm caught in the middle and people can think this or that, but it's not easy for me to do anything besides what I'm doing," said Dervishi.

The tribe allowed the shop to use the land for parking, but when the tent town started causing headaches for the city and the tribe, they revoked any use of the land. Even so, no one has forced the homeless out yet.

"I made it clear with everybody, I'm not going to be the one to kick them out," said Dervishi.

"I'm kind of going to wait and see what everybody else does. I like here. I'd love to stay. But if we have to go, we have to go," said Smith.

Jessica Flores, KMIR6 News.