Some are taking shelter before the final closure of the Santa Cruz homeless camp

SANTA CRUZ — Although time is running out for about 50 people living in “Zone 3” of the San Lorenzo Park Benchlands homeless encampment, city officials began putting up fence barriers Tuesday to close off the next zone.

Ahead of this week’s eviction deadline, 10 people living in the encampment accepted help from the city to move into roughly 52 shelter spaces operated by the Salvation Army at the National Guard Armory in DeLaveaga Park, the city manager told Homeless Response Larry Imual. At least three more people were in talks to follow suit on Tuesday, he said.

The closure of Zone 4 — decided by geographic access to the park’s stairways, not population size — is expected to affect about 24 people, who will have to relocate by Oct. 5, Imuale said. City officials have divided the benchlands campground into eight zones, with the previous ninth zone, closest to the Soquel Avenue Bridge, closed earlier than expected, he said.

The closures, which have been occurring at a frequency of about one per week so far, are based on the city identifying options for shelter beds that match the number of people who need to be displaced. Earlier this month, city-sponsored shelter programs at the Armory expanded with an additional 60 tent spaces when an indoor program was launched to complement the existing City Overlook Campground.

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