Crews tear down Oakland homeless village due to health violations

Byby Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Friday, February 3, 2017
Crews tear down Oakland homeless village due to violations
Crews tore down a homeless village in West Oakland put up by advocates and neighbors last month after it got 18 health safety and fire code violations.

WEST OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Some people living in a homeless village in West Oakland put up last month by advocates and neighbors are looking for a new home after city officials cleared it out on Thursday.

The village was under the Interstate 580 and Interstate 980 freeways.

The newly built homeless village was torn down because it was built on land that's supposed to be dog park and because officials say there were 18 health, safety and fire code violations.

Two weeks ago, West Oakland neighbors and activists took pallets and plywood and built a homeless village at the dog park. They set up a wash station and toilet and donated food and clothes. "They're tearing it down when it's helping people, how shameful is that?" Oakland resident Leticia Duarte said.

"I never felt so much love as I did when I was inside this park and they came to me and gave help," village resident Nancy Mitchell said.

However, 12 residents were back out on the street after public works crews dismantled the so called village after they said they got a lot of complaints. "We actually have a lease with Caltrans to operate this as a park and so were in violation of our lease with Caltrans. Nothing had permits," Oakland city spokesperson Karen Boyd said.

"What we see here is an exhibit of the municipal code taking precedent over the housing crisis and human dignity," Feed the People spokesperson Kyle Ohlin said.

Angry advocates tried to salvage what they could from their village as a few dozen marched to Oakland City Hall to demand answers.

Officials told them there were beds available in the city's winter shelter for those who were displaced.

Countywide there are 4,000 homeless, with more choosing not to live in shelters.

"You can drive down the streets of Oakland and every other street you'll find homeless people. I mean they're everywhere," one person said.

"Just because they're tearing it down doesn't mean it's not going to go up somewhere else," another person said.