ALBANY, Calif. (KGO) --They were paid to go away, but they did not go far. There is an East Bay homeless problem that simply got shuffled down the road. A group of homeless people moved from Albany Bulb after being given money to do so, only to relocate to the I-80 Gilman Street underpass.
The homeless encampment that stood at the end of the trail for decades is finally gone. ABC7 News was there when the last resident packed up her belongings and left.
So many frayed and battered tents line the sidewalk beneath the Gilman Street overpass, using it for its intended purpose, is all but impossible. This is the result of what some believe to be the disbandment of a homeless encampment at the nearby Albany Bulb.
"The city gave people $3,000 each. I once had $3,500 saved up and couldn't find a landlord that would rent to me; $3,000 is nothing and they knew that and they knew it would be gone right away and it was," said Amber Whitson, who is homeless.
On April 25, residents living on this stretch of the Albany Bulb were told by the city their tents and structures had to go. City officials were moving forward with plans to make the area part of Eastshore State Park. According to the city, 28 people, including some of the homeless who had lived there for decades, took them up on their offer of $3,000 to move. The deal was simple: the cash was theirs, as long as they promised to pack up, move out and not come back.
Visitors to the beach can't help but notice the improvements, but fear the city may not have done enough to solve its issues of homelessness.
"It's a chunk of money, but it's not going to last that long and where they're going to wind up going, I have no idea," said Berkeley resident Barry Eagle.
And that's exactly the problem. According to Whitson, many of her friends got the cash, but had nowhere to go.
"Everybody's broke. Everybody was broke within three weeks at most," said Whitson.
Albany officials say they're not ignoring their homeless, saying that 22 people who once lived along the stretch of beach are currently housed through city services. Surrounding communities may want Albany to do more as city's nearby see their homeless numbers growing.