Creative homeless man turns bottom of highway into a two-bedroom apartment

LINCOLN (KTXL) -- You can't see it driving over the Highway 65 bypass, or walking under it. But it is what's inside the cement roadway in Lincoln that's surprising.

"That was quite a shock. I didn't expect somebody to figure out a way to get in there," said Lincoln resident Alfonso Vargas.

But someone did.

The Lincoln Police Department says a homeless man made himself at home inside a hollowed out section of the Highway 65 bypass.

Lincoln Police Chief Doug Lee says the man took off a metal grate and added a ramp to get inside the area. The space was complete with a bed, stove and even a poster on the wall, but also a lot of trash.

"Just garbage, needles, gallon bottles filled with urine, rotting food," Lee said.

Officers were tipped off when cleaning up another area of the Auburn Ravine, a hot spot for homeless in the city, when they noticed a handmade bridge and the ramp.

A 72-hour notice to vacate the illegal campsite was posted last week.

Wednesday, Caltrans and a cleaning company went in and cleared it, filling two dump trucks full of garbage.

So where do the homeless go next?

"Anytime we encounter homeless individuals, we refer them to services, it's on our notice that we post," Lee said.

See photos of the hallowed out enclosure

Police can't believe what they found inside the cement hole under a highway
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Police can't believe what they found inside the cement hole under a highway

The closest shelter to Lincoln is in Roseville, but the city does offer counseling and food services.

Lee says because of shelter rules and drug and mental issues, many transients don't take advantage of those resources but rather rely on others for help -- sometimes ending up right where they started.

"Most of the homeless people we deal with have some sort of connection to Lincoln, they have friends or relatives here who let them sleep on a couch or a garage or trailer in their backyard, and then they wear out their welcome and are back on the street again. We're not pushing them out to the next field over, they disappear for a while, probably into somebody else's house," Lee said.

Vargas lives near the Highway 65 Bypass and says he's noticed an increase in transients in the area. The Lincoln native says he's not bothered by it but is concerned and hopes for a change.

"I see that they're doing what they can, which is great, hopefully they can find a solution that can help both parties involved," Vargas said.

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