Berkeley Clears Homeless Camp, Hauls Away 1,000 Pounds of Trash
By Doug Oakley Staff Writer Bay Area News Group email@example.com
BERKELEY -- A homeless camp under Interstate 80 at Gilman Street has been scrubbed clean of trash, belongings and residents, who scattered to surrounding areas after a city cleanup Friday morning.
The camp grew from a couple of long-term residents to about a dozen in May after the city of Albany forced out a group of homeless from waterfront property nearby.
"People are now scattered around, and we're trying to pick up the pieces, so it's much harder trying to help them and get them into housing now," said Osha Neumann, a homeless advocate and attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center.
Berkeley had warned residents of the camp that if they did not clean up the area, which included human waste, rats and trash, that the city would remove the trash and belongings there.
On Monday, the area was empty.
After the cleanup on Friday, City Manager Christine Daniel told the City Council in a memo that public works crews picked up "1,000 pounds of garbage, rotting food, hypodermic needles and other debris that had created a significant harborage for rodents and raised substantial health and safety concerns."
The memo also said that about 30 cubic yards of items "that appeared to be of value and were left behind" were stored and are available to be claimed at the city's garbage transfer station.
A similar memo from Daniel on July 15 said that since the beginning of May, police were called to the camp six times for robbery, trespassing, suspicious circumstances and the report of a man down. In addition, there was an arrest for drug possession, and a parolee was arrested for possession of a pellet gun, Daniel said. There were also three arrests for outstanding warrants.
Neumann said the dozen or so residents who were living under the freeway moved nearby. A few went to a strip of land next to the Gilman Street offramp. "One guy went to the Berkeley Marina, we got one guy into temporary housing and one guy (who was ready to get into housing) came into our offices today," Neumann said.
Daniel's Friday memo to the City Council said city staff had been working with people in the camp to find housing, and some even got "financial subsidies to support housing costs."
She said the city will continue to work with people to find housing.