Oakland begins to clear out, shut down of Wood Street homeless encampment

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Monday, April 10, 2023
Oakland begins to shut down of Wood Street homeless encampment
Oakland begins to clear out, shut down of Wood Street homeless encampment as unhoused residents vow to fight until the end.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- After months of delays due to a court order, work to clear out the massive Wood Street homeless encampment is underway.

"We have lived under constant stress, constant duress. We have been under siege for years, just because we are here and we are an inconvenience," says Jared Defigh. He has lived at the encampment since last year. "They don't see us as people. They just see us as a problem."

RELATED: Judge allows Oakland to clear homeless encampment on Wood Street to build affordable housing

Monday morning, the city began efforts to shut it down and move everyone out.

"We have identified four individuals who are relocating today into city shelter programs," said LaTonda Simmons, Oakland's acting homelessness administrator.

Simmons says the goal is to transition the unhoused to city shelters over the next two weeks, to give people time to clear out and relocate. The land is being cleared for a new affordable housing project.

"We will continue that outreach, to ensure that we are engaged with everyone, providing the opportunity to accept city shelter," says Simmons.

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As she explains, the city has been working with community groups for months to design the shelter program and support services, for the roughly 70 people currently living there.

But some homeless advocates don't like what's being done.

"City, county and state governments have decided to prioritize real estate development and profits over a human right to housing," says Kimberly King, with the Poor People's Campaign. She is also a professor of psychology at Laney College.

She thinks some of the proposed solutions, like portable homes, do not amount to safe housing or meet the needs of the people.

MORE: SF supervisor says city's $1.45B budget plan to end homelessness won't work

San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman says city's $1.45 billion budget plan to house all homeless won't solve the actual problem.

"We have the science to understand that. Psychologists, social workers. We know how to meet the needs of people. We could do that if we wanted to. The money is there," says King.

Jon Sullivan, also with the Poor People's Campaign, believes city policies create these realities on the ground.

"Because of policy over the past ten years or so, it has slowly pushed people out of their homes," he says.

Meanwhile, folks like Defigh plan to fight to the end.

"This is my family. This is what we want. And we want to talk to the city. And they only way they are really going to give us any attention is if we resist," he says.

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