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Proposals Focus on Code-Sweep Impact

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Hoping to deal with future overcrowding sweeps in a more humane fashion, city officials and social activists Thursday completed a series of proposed measures to assist displaced tenants.

Olav Hassel, Thousand Oaks’ housing services director, declined to discuss specifics, but said city officials will take a series of recommendations to the City Council for discussion in the next few weeks.

He said the main thrust of the discussions was ensuring that all local social service agencies are involved in city code enforcement sweeps so they can assist the people who are affected.

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“There’s going to be about eight or 10 recommendations,” Hassel said. “It’s just a development of a comprehensive program to deal with those who may be displaced by any future code enforcement actions.”

Karen Ingram of Lutheran Social Services said one of the other suggestions that came out of the gatherings was to use the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s Mobile Resource Center to reach out to city neighborhoods and educate residents about social service groups and what they offer.

Thursday’s meeting was the third in a series of gatherings involving city officials, charitable groups and the affordable housing group Many Mansions.

The effort came as a response to a city sweep in April of a property on Sunset and Royal Oaks drives where more than 50 people were living in small houses, shacks and toolsheds. City code enforcement officers ordered about half of the tenants to vacate their makeshift homes.

The discussions about what to do to assist those left without a home by such sweeps have become clouded in controversy, with critics questioning whether city money would be used to assist illegal immigrants.

Many residents of the shantytown acknowledged being undocumented immigrants.

Hassel said no city money has been or will be used to assist illegal immigrants.

“Obviously, the city has to take action if there are overcrowding conditions,” Hassel said.

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“If there are undocumented aliens, the city cannot assist them.”

In an unrelated action, 14 undocumented immigrants were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents Wednesday in a sweep of construction sites off Westlake Boulevard, authorities said.

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