From Daily Mail: Cali Carlisle admits she is a heroin addict — ‘but in a healthy way,’ she insists, even if the visual evidence belies that claim.
Her nose is the brightest shade of red imaginable. She constantly picks at scabs all over her body. Her home is a makeshift bed beneath Interstate 80 in Sacramento. And Monday was her 26th birthday. Not that you would ever guess. Anyone looking at her would think she is at least 15 years older.
Carlisle is part of California’s growing homeless emergency. The state has around 130,000 people without a roof over their heads. But she is not in downtown Los Angeles where Skid Row is a symbol of the national crisis or San Francisco where nearly one person in every hundred lives on the streets.
Instead, Carlisle and her fiancé Brian Workman are in Sacramento, the state capital, where homelessness has shot up by a shocking 19% in the past two years, putting the problem squarely on the doorstep of Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor.
Last week, salon owner Liz Novak brought the nation’s attention to the problem when she announced to great fanfare that she was shutting up shop because she could not deal with the needles, the human waste, and the general aggravation that comes with having a business in the city.
‘I just want to tell you what happens when I get to work. I have to clean up the poop and the pee off of my doorstep. I have to clean-up the syringes. I have to politely ask the people who I care for, I care for these people that are homeless, to move their tents out of the way of the door to my business,’ she said in a video posted on Twitter, which gained the attention of Fox News and other national media outlets.
‘I am angry about it. I wouldn’t be relocating if it wasn’t for this issue,’ Novak added.
Carlisle and Workman insist they are not part of the problem that forced Novak out. ‘All we do is lie around, eat ice-cream, have sex, and take drugs,’ said Cali. ‘Man, I love ice-cream.
Carlisle says she needs heroin just to exist. ‘I need it for everything — just to walk and to breathe. I did go to rehab once, she added. ‘In Orangeville I think… or maybe it was somewhere else.’
Then she started a long rambling monologue that included ramekins and pico de gallo among other subjects and went off into her own world.
Carlisle grew up in Sacramento. Workman made his way there. Originally from San Jose, he found the rent got too high as tech companies moved in. ‘I moved to Placerville with a friend who had worked for Netflix and got money from their IPO,’ he said, displaying the few rotten teeth that remain in his mouth.
‘We had a falling out and I moved here because it was cheaper,’ added Workman, who had a job remodeling outdoor areas of homes. ‘I got married in 2005 and had a couple of kids. I was married for nine years. But then my father-in-law came to stay and there wasn’t room and I was paying rent for an apartment but couldn’t live there.’
He lost a job and says he couldn’t get another because he has a hearing problem. ‘I needed a hearing aid that cost $3,000 but I couldn’t afford it. It’s really difficult to keep work if you can’t hear. So I ended up on the streets.
‘It’s a bit ironic,’ he added. ‘My name’s Workman — and I can’t work.’
He likes to keep his area of 23rd Street tidy. He has two long-handled brooms and regularly sweeps away.
Every few days, workers from the California Department of Transportation backed by Highway Patrol officers clean up under the freeways. They post notices, giving three days’ notice and announcing exactly when they are coming and they trash any unattended items.
Carlisle and Workman — and many others — merely move their possessions out from the limited protection the highway gives them from the elements to the corner of the street, which is city land.
Within a few minutes they move back again. ‘It’s a game of cat and mouse,’ said Workman. ‘But moving my stuff keeps me in shape. I’m in pretty good shape really.’
Highway Patrol Officer Caleb Howard, whose work includes backing up the CalTrans clean-up crew, said they rarely junk stuff that the homeless want. ‘If they abandon it, they don’t want it,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘They know when we are coming.’
Jeffrey Witte, 42, who was staying under the highway a couple of blocks from Workman and Carlisle, agreed, shortly after being rousted by Howard and his crew.
‘It’s somewhat fair,’ he said. ‘It’s slightly reasonable. Everyone knows the limits.’
Witte lives with his seven-year-old dog Luis. ‘I got him in Montana,’ he said.
HOMELESSNESS UP IN CALIFORNIA’S CAPITAL
Over the last two years, the rate of homelessness in Sacramento has risen by 19 per cent. More than a tenth of that number, 688, were children, and 70 per cent were living without shelter.
According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, California has the largest homeless population in the country, with 129,972 people living on the streets as of 2018.
The issue has long plagued Los Angeles, which has seen its homeless population rise by a staggering 75 per cent in the last six years.
A report released in June this year revealed there are 59,000 people living on the streets across Los Angeles County – a 12 per cent increase from 2018 – while the city has seen a 16 per cent rise with 36,300.
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