City crews clear big Oakland homeless encampment

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A large homeless camp in Oakland, once sanctioned by the city, is now being removed.

Tammy Forse has lived at the encampment beneath the 23rd Ave. bridge, a refuge for the homeless that was originally sanctioned by the city. She watched from across the street as crews began to demolish the sheds around her red and white tent.

"I think it helps clean up the garbage, but we're not garbage," said Forse.

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"If you saw about a year ago, when the village first got this land from the city, and it was so clean and beautiful," said Homeless Advocate Judy Elkan, "and I think it's obvious that the garbage hasn't been picked up in a very long time."

"This is a dangerous street encampment," said Joe DeVries, the Assistant to the City Administrator, who oversees Oakland's outreach and programming for the homeless.

DeVries says residents were warned months ago that this day would come.

"This is about to become a construction site for the retrofit of this bridge, the $10 million retrofit project," explained DeVries. "We need this entire area clear and so what we've been doing these past few months... we've been doing a lot of outreach here and we've been conducting a census, a survey of the individuals that are living here."

There were two large fires at the Village last fall, one that led to the discovery of a man who had died days earlier. There have also been growing concerns about health and safety at the encampment. And, about residents illegally tapping into power on the bridge.

DeVries told us those being displaced from The Village's 39 residents are being offered space at the newest Community Cabins site, on Miller Avenue, just two blocks from the Village. However, some told us they're not sure what their next move is.

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"I have no choice but to go to the Tuff Sheds," said Tracy Saele.

Crews will remove the encampment in sections-with the work set to be completed next week.


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