There are a growing number of outdoor areas where homeless people without shelter are living in filthy conditions with no sanitation, which is a public health hazard. So far this year alone, there have been almost half a dozen fires at homeless tent camps, which is a safety hazard that is somewhat reminiscent of the Ghost Ship warehouse disaster that happened this past December. According to Operation Dignity outreach workers, there are almost 200 homeless encampments in Oakland that vary in size, and the majority of them are concentrated in downtown and in West Oakland. Residents have been complaining to Oakland and county officials about concerns of garbage, violence, aggressive panhandling and other issues. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who has been a vocal supporter of city-sanctioned homeless encampments, stated:
Pushing them from one encampment only to have them move to another underpass with no solution is expensive and wasteful. Creating a space where people can go with their tents and RVs is really important to how we create a humane way forward.
Apparently things are so bad that one resident at a City Council meeting even called a homeless encampment near her business a “war zone.” Victoria Angelo, the owner of the Kinetic Arts Center at Seventh and Brush streets, stated:
The crisis down there needs immediate support. I can’t wait until six months from now, or even next week. It’s really awful.
According to the latest 2017 point-in-time homeless count by EveryOne Home, there were 2,761 homeless in the city, of which 1,900 were unsheltered. Half of the unsheltered people in Alameda County live in Oakland, and many of the homeless people suffer from mental illness or are struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
There needs to be more done to help the homeless people in California and more affordable housing is need to prevent more people from becoming homeless.