VIDEO: Some Oakland city officials making homeless encampments neighborhoods in pilot program


OAKLAND (KRON) — Some Oakland city officials are taking a new approach to homeless encampments.

They are essentially making the encampments neighborhoods but not everyone is happy about it.

KRON4’s Hermela Aregawi spoke to residents who said this approach is not only unsanitary but dangerous. Residents in a West Oakland neighborhood are frustrated by the growing number of homeless encampments.

They said they began to pop up about six months ago and now dozens line a block at Magnolia and 35th street.

Those who live nearby said it’s made them feel a lot less safe.

“There’s evidence of a lot of drug use,” Thompson said. “I’ve seen quite a number of people actually dealing drugs out of their cars and out of their tents.”

“We keep finding them inside of our yard,” Keith Cook said. “They go through everything–cars, anything they can find.”

Residents say the tents are now blocking the road under the bridge.

Up until this week, you could go through a road where you now see white barricades. Residents said they now have to get in the car because of safety concerns, or they have to take a roundabout way to get to the stores and grocery stores on the other side.

This district is home to the majority of those living on the streets in Oakland.

So, city officials have started a pilot program that aims to treat the encampments as cities of sorts.

In June, $190,000 dollars were allocated for the program.

“What does sanitation services look like? What does it mean to bring in that basic modicum of care? How do you get social workers to come to where they are so that you can get them into housing? And the theory suggests that it will cost us less money, and that we’ll get people housed more quickly,” councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said.

But residents are skeptical and fear the experiment will come at the cost of their safety.”

“I don’t want anybody to be evicted or thrown out of their living space, but I don’t think the solution is to have people camping in tents without any responsibility for the impact they’re having on the neighborhood in terms of…general health and safety.”

“We watch cops pull up and talk to the drug dealers that we just watched sell 30 pre-packaged heroin needles that are full with heroin to a whole bunch of people,” Cook said. “Then, the cop comes down, shakes their hand, (and) talks to them.”

The pilot program will last six months.

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