Homeless man dies at Safe Ground camp in Sacramento, California
A homeless man named Kelvin Peterson, 30, was found dead in his tent Tuesday at a sanctioned Safe Ground tent camp in Sacramento.
Other guests at the Safe Ground, located near Eighth and W streets, were in mourning on Thursday.
“Everyone knew Kelvin,” said Billy Norman, 37. “He didn’t talk too much, but everyone knew Kelvin.”
The guests set up a memorial in the space at the edge of the earthen lot where Peterson’s tent was located. It features two framed photos of Peterson holding his black and white dog, along with colorful bouquets of flowers and handwritten notes.
Jamie Wolfe Sr., another Safe Ground guest, said he found Peterson in his tent standing still, with his dogs on him. When he touched his ankle it was “stone cold,” he said. It was then that he knew.
“He was a very sweet-hearted, soft-spoken young man who helped people and loved his dogs,” said Wolfe, 41. “He never swore.”
Peterson’s uncle showed up at the Safe Ground on Wednesday in tears, Wolfe said.
The coroner’s office has not determined the cause and manner of Peterson’s death.
City Councilor Katie Valenzuela, the driving force behind the opening of Safe Ground, learned of the death from a journalist.
“I am sorry to learn of the passing of a beloved resident of our WX security ground,” Valenzuela, who represents the region, said in an email. “We have a long way to go to make sure everyone has the services and housing they need – I remain committed to doing all I can to make this vision a reality. “
The Safe Ground, which the city opened in March, is a fenced-in dirt lot spanning several blocks under the WX Freeway. It offers homeless people a safe place to camp where they have access to toilets, showers and safety. The city contracts with the organization First Step Communities to operate the site. The Safe Ground is expected to close at the end of the year, so Caltrans can continue construction of the highway, but the city plans to open additional Safe Ground sites north of Sacramento and south of Sacramento.
Last year 137 homeless people died in Sacramento County. So far this year, 107 homeless people have died in the county, according to coroner’s data.