Essay: Love on the levee

If the city bans camps along the river, where are the homeless supposed to go?

By Lacey DeVivo

Peace like charity, begins at home.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech at Chautauqua, N.Y., on Aug. 14, 1936

Life changed for me before the sunset. Newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I looked around to realize for the first time I was homeless.

With my then-boyfriend by my side, we battled the streets of San Francisco for more than a month. One day, an angel appeared on the alley where we had our tent. She took us under her wing and brought us to the levee in Sacramento—to home.

A year before I ended up on the levee, I was working at my local Salvation Army in Stevens Point, Wisc., helping the homeless. Never would I imagine I would be the one without a home. That taught me one of life’s lessons: Count your blessings because things can change fast as a blink of an eye.

The community on the levee welcomed me with open arms. Many souls I met felt like family. There was not a day I went hungry or was lonely. The positive energy filled my heart with warmth and happiness. They taught me to live off the land that Mother Earth provided us. Respect played a huge role—respect each other, respect the land. I was truly blessed to fall into the arms of these kindhearted souls.

I spent most of last summer on the levee and fell in love with the atmosphere and community. I made it back to my hometown of Stevens Point, but always will have a piece of my heart on the levee.

Lacey DeVivo, who experienced homelessness in Sacramento, is working to help the homeless in her hometown of Stevens Point, Wisc.

The city of Sacramento’s new ban states that no camping is allowed within 25 feet of three miles of riverfront levees, and could expand to bridges, hospitals, police and fire stations, pump stations and other “critical infrastructure.”

If that’s the case, where do the homeless go? On the streets, authorities have been doing sweeps and asking people to relocate. If you’re going to tell someone to pack up and move, at least have a place they can immediately go to, not just properties where shelters will eventually be located.

Or even better yet, instead of having people move, fix the issue. Have the homeless task force go around to explain and check on the camps for fire safety guidelines. Make sure they are respecting the land; if they aren’t, fine or cite them.

We are all on this world together so let’s work together. Please I ask everyone to work together to keep the homes they made for themselves. Everyone deserves a helping hand, even more so if they are homeless.

The wise, kind souls I met don’t deserve to say goodbye to their home. Please speak up and don’t let this new ordinance ruin many people who are just trying to survive.

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