16 votes

[Serious] Residents of the Bay Area, CA, how do we address the homeless camps littering the streets of Oakland and surrounding towns?

Before we get started, PLEASE, no political agenda harping, shit posting, trolling, etc. This is something that is on a sharp increase right now in the Bay Area and I'm genuinely wanting to hear other people's thoughts and opinions on this.

The homeless camps have officially reached an out of control level. There is no denying this. Trash and used hypodermic needles litter the streets. Drug use and sales is seen on street corners near the camps. I personally have seen residents of the camps painting graffiti in broad day light. There are unsafe cooking set ups causing explosions and fires putting residents at risk and leaving charred remains for weeks at a time. Cite: https://evilleeye.com/news-commentary/public-safety/explosion-home-depot-homeless-encampment-rattles-emeryville-west-oakland-neighbors/

What is going on here? How come cities are not cleaning this stuff up? I realize that if the city did conduct some massive eviction/clean up, the residents would just move somewhere else. But what about the trash? Can't that be cleaned up? In many places, I've seen it up to the ankles of people walking around in the camps.

I truly don't know what the non-camp residents are suppose to do? Do we just turn a blind eye and let the trash pile up? Or do we demand action to keep our streets clean and safe?

17 comments

  1. [6]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [3]
      OriginalBinChicken
      Link Parent
      This usually does seem like the solution. I would like to see some sort of guidelines and rules around this though. The main fear is that tax money is diverted for a project like this, only to...

      This usually does seem like the solution. I would like to see some sort of guidelines and rules around this though. The main fear is that tax money is diverted for a project like this, only to have the housing complex high jacked and turned into a drug den.

      1. What are the guidelines for resident acceptance?

      2. How do we ensure that Oakland residents are benefiting? There are many people that travel from city to city taking advantage of social programs. How do we ensure Oakland isn't over run with more homeless flocking to the city?

      3. How do we ensure a drug free environment? This to me is the biggest one. Oakland already can barely keep its streets clean, how will a housing project work?

      1 vote
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        From my experience, the homeless resource center model currently in use in Salt Lake City is the best choice, centralizing social support for the tenants, providing housing, and being in smaller...

        From my experience, the homeless resource center model currently in use in Salt Lake City is the best choice, centralizing social support for the tenants, providing housing, and being in smaller (200 person) units more broadly spread so as to not unduly impact a single section of the community.

        5 votes
      2. Reasonable_Doubt
        Link Parent
        First, addiction treatment programs. Then placing them in a nice housing complex once they've been treated. People who are in a different environment after addition treatment have fairly low...

        How do we ensure a drug free environment?

        First, addiction treatment programs. Then placing them in a nice housing complex once they've been treated. People who are in a different environment after addition treatment have fairly low levels of relapse.

        Oakland already can barely keep its streets clean, how will a housing project work?

        Allowing some of the ownership/running of the complex to require input and work on the part of the residents is likely to keep this internally well-managed.

        How do we ensure that Oakland residents are benefiting? There are many people that travel from city to city taking advantage of social programs. How do we ensure Oakland isn't over run with more homeless flocking to the city?

        This comes off a little bit toward the "welfare queen" stereotype (hint, it was just this one really bad lady). You'll always have some folks gaming a system, no matter what.

    2. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Given the high cost of living, would it be cheaper to build a nice housing complex elsewhere, offer to move people there, and have them get a job away from the bay?

      Given the high cost of living, would it be cheaper to build a nice housing complex elsewhere, offer to move people there, and have them get a job away from the bay?

      1 vote
    3. 799
      Link Parent
      And mental/physical health care!

      And mental/physical health care!

  2. Phlegmatic
    Link
    I live far away from CA, but maybe you should help clean shit up. Not that you should have to do that, and not that it would treat the underlying problem, but if the city government isn't doing...

    I live far away from CA, but maybe you should help clean shit up. Not that you should have to do that, and not that it would treat the underlying problem, but if the city government isn't doing enough, you can still make the situation marginally better and hopefully build some relationships with the homeless people around you. If you can get more people to care, the government may mount a better response.

    11 votes
  3. harrygibus
    Link
    Pry some of the million dollar bills from betwixt the cheeks of those billionaire internet tycoons that you seem to never have any problems making tax concessions to and build some fucking public...

    Pry some of the million dollar bills from betwixt the cheeks of those billionaire internet tycoons that you seem to never have any problems making tax concessions to and build some fucking public housing already.

    11 votes
  4. [2]
    ABC
    Link
    The biggest thing that needs to be done is a massive increase in available housing in order to drive costs in the area down. The bay area is pretty much as built out as it can get, and all that's...

    The biggest thing that needs to be done is a massive increase in available housing in order to drive costs in the area down. The bay area is pretty much as built out as it can get, and all that's left really is to build up. If the state had the power to / would mandate a significant rise in vertical building, housing prices would (hopefully) drop. Controls on foreign money buying property as well. A large influx of one and two bedroom units would hopefully help drive the cost of living down, drawing at least some of these people out of homelessness. In addition to / instead of that, the only thing that will help is social outreach on the community wide / local government scale with federal / state guidance. Its more than shelters and free food, its job and sometimes even basic skill training, its mental health help, its pathways to independence. But it needs to be paid for, and needs to come along with an actually attainable cost of living. I don't know if the problem is going away anytime soon unless someone can find a way to make it financially attractive to invest in for private money.

    9 votes
    1. MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      No amazing news, but there's actually a number of bills working their way on the state level trying to limit NIMBY's ability to hamper infill. There's work being done, but it's mostly pretty...

      No amazing news, but there's actually a number of bills working their way on the state level trying to limit NIMBY's ability to hamper infill. There's work being done, but it's mostly pretty boring so far unless you're a policy wonk.

      5 votes
  5. MimicSquid
    Link
    So there's a number of conflicting issues making this harder than it otherwise might be. You asked a number of questions, and I'll try to cover what the current thinking is and why little is...

    So there's a number of conflicting issues making this harder than it otherwise might be. You asked a number of questions, and I'll try to cover what the current thinking is and why little is happening.

    What is going on here?

    Compared to many areas of the country, California has cool summers and warm winters, where outdoor living is acceptable (if not pleasant) at all times of the year. This has led to a larger number of people living without houses in our communities, at least where police harassment or camp destruction hasn't forced them to move to the next town over. Combined with the increased cost of housing pushing people out of their houses when they don't have the resources to move elsewhere away from their families and support network, the number of people who are homeless continues to grow.

    How come cities are not cleaning this stuff up?

    There are a couple of issues here. One is purely one of funds. Despite the increased wealth flowing through the area, many city budgets are still strained. Paying to clean up a homeless camp takes money away from some other use and is not always the top priority as long as it stays concentrated mostly our of sight. In addition, there's some concern that cleanup will only encourage a given camp's growth. These are also reasons cited for not providing any sort of sanitation services even as human waste builds up around the camps.

    I truly don't know what the non-camp residents are suppose to do?

    If you live nearby and pay for trash service, you could pick up some extra trash and throw it in your bin. If you're civic minded, you can go to the city council meetings when the topic of homelessness is on the agenda. If you're wealthy and can work with the people in the camps, pay for a dumpster. You can ignore it. You can harass the people living there. You can write nasty letters to the editor about them.

    Honestly, your question about "Keeping the streets clean and safe" feels like a loaded one. The people who are living in these camps aren't generally dangerous, and our social services are too strained to provide them with options for socially polite waste management. Midden heaps are standard anywhere that no one pays to haul the waste away, and while I agree it's distasteful to see trash on the streets, it's a sign of our failure to care for the vulnerable among us to a reasonable standard, not a moral failing on their part.

    7 votes
  6. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    Why don't you ask them? Pick up the phone and call the office of the Oakland City Council or Alameda County and ask them why they're not keeping the streets clean. Call your local police...

    How come cities are not cleaning this stuff up?

    Why don't you ask them? Pick up the phone and call the office of the Oakland City Council or Alameda County and ask them why they're not keeping the streets clean. Call your local police department. We don't know why they're not doing something you think they should do. Ask them.

    However, I note this line from the article you linked: "The area that has been hampered by jurisdictional bureaucracy as it splits Emeryville, Oakland and Caltrans’ responsibility."

    Regardless: we can't help.

    3 votes
  7. moriarty
    Link
    This has been an issue all along the west coast, from San Diego to Seattle. I honestly have no idea how to address this - in Portland it seems like the more housing solutions and programs we pour...

    This has been an issue all along the west coast, from San Diego to Seattle. I honestly have no idea how to address this - in Portland it seems like the more housing solutions and programs we pour money into, the more the problem perpetuates itself, with homeless people from surrounding towns moving in. The city also can't take care of the trash and the cleanup anymore because there simply is too much and the budget is already stretched too thin.
    At the end of the day, I don't think there can be a localized solution - because of how easy travel is, any local good social solution will be overwhelmed with demand. This needs to be a national solution

    2 votes
  8. [2]
    Bear
    Link
    And there's the rub. Many homeless people here are homeless because rising rents forced them out, coupled with a lack of buildable space. (For all the druggies you do see, there are many homeless...

    The biggest thing that needs to be done is a massive increase in available housing in order to drive costs in the area down.

    Build a nice housing complex and help them settle in and get a stable job?

    And there's the rub. Many homeless people here are homeless because rising rents forced them out, coupled with a lack of buildable space. (For all the druggies you do see, there are many homeless that you do not see)

    And it goes back to a basic issue of fairness. I struggle to afford my apartment here, what about them?

    And if we subsidize their rents, where, for how long, who pays, and who's more deserving of that housing?

    No one wants to answer these uncomfortable questions at a government level.

    1 vote
    1. fax_trucks
      Link Parent
      There isn't a lack of buildable space there's an obsession with NIMBYism and "historic preservation." This article does a pretty good job of showing an example of how a single story laundromat has...

      with a lack of buildable space.

      There isn't a lack of buildable space there's an obsession with NIMBYism and "historic preservation."

      This article does a pretty good job of showing an example of how a single story laundromat has millions of dollars and several years of completely unnecessary costs to assess "historical significance" and a number of other not-as-important factors as the incredible shortage of housing supply. Cities like NYC and SF were built mostly without these types of regulations, and in NYC for example 40% of Manhattan's buildings would be illegal to build today.This problem isn't unique to the bay area but it's especially bad there. It makes no sense for such a large, growing metropolis to have so much relatively low-density housing and it only is that way because anything else is either outlawed or extremely expensive to build because of all the red tape and NIMBYs.

  9. BadMonkey
    Link
    I came here from Sacramento where encampments have been a reality since the 80s at least. I don't know that there can be just a single solution or even just a dozen solutions. We in the bay area...

    I came here from Sacramento where encampments have been a reality since the 80s at least. I don't know that there can be just a single solution or even just a dozen solutions. We in the bay area see this as a fairly recent turn of events, but it's been a reality of California (and other parts of the US) for a very long time. At this point, I fear the problem may be more systemic and cultural than people realize.

    1 vote
  10. [2]
    rodya
    Link
    For the people that just have no money and are stuck in homelessness, give them housing and job opportunities. Get the people that have addictions or mental illnesses treatment and then into some...

    For the people that just have no money and are stuck in homelessness, give them housing and job opportunities. Get the people that have addictions or mental illnesses treatment and then into some kind of halfway program.

    If there's a lack of housing, expropriate it from the landlords.

    1. Bear
      Link Parent
      As much as I believe that basic housing should be fully socialized, there are large problems to get from the current market to that. If we expropriate housing from landlords - Depriving a person...

      For the people that just have no money and are stuck in homelessness, give them housing and job opportunities.

      If there's a lack of housing, expropriate it from the landlords.

      As much as I believe that basic housing should be fully socialized, there are large problems to get from the current market to that.

      If we expropriate housing from landlords - Depriving a person of possession of housing - why would anyone want to be a landlord? I bet many would just opt-out. Being a landlord isn't the easiest job, depending on your tenants. And then, you end up with a lack of housing.

      Also, from my reply earlier in the thread:

      And if we subsidize their rents, where, for how long, who pays, and who figures out who is more deserving of that housing?