Some upset by growing homeless camp near Oakland VA Health Center

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- There's a growing homeless encampment around the Veteran's Health Center in Oakland, and some believe it dishonors veterans.

The Veteran's Administration wants the city to do more to clean it up.

Dr. Ronald Chun is the site manager for the VA Health Center in Oakland and he's increasingly concerned about the growing homeless encampment that nearly circles his building.

"There's a lot of garbage, there's a lot of human excrement. It has a bad smell in the area," Chun said.

"Just the overall appearance of the building cosmetically, it just presents a picture that in my view is disparate treatment of this population than the other 10 facilities we have throughout Northern California," said union president Gloria Salter.

"It doesn't make sense. Is it the city, that does not care? If it's the city, does the government not care?" said VA employee Zack Bayani.

The city owns the building and the property around it. In a statement, a spokesperson said, "that encampment had been on a residential block and the issues associated with it were really impacting neighbors. We felt by having it migrate to an area with no homes and only minimal impact on businesses was the lesser of two bad situations."

Michael Jones is a veteran who visits the center often and used to be homeless.

"I don't think we need to push the problem around, we need to get them into permanent housing. We need to get them somewhere where they can have medical and mental services help," said VA patient Michael Jones.

City crews do come out to clean up garbage, needles and the like, and occasionally have removed the camp itself.

"Within 12 hours the homeless started moving back in and putting their tents up," Chun said.

Top officials with the VA hope to meet with mayor Libby Schaaf soon to come up with perhaps better situation for everyone involved.
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