While the Moms 4 Housing situation has reached a possible conclusion, the group’s ally on the Oakland City Council Nikki Fortunado Bas is also pushing a much larger audit project to try to settle the homeless encampment issue.
San Francisco’s homelessness problem is the go-to bitching point for right-wing media and our incoherent commander in chief, but Oakland’s struggles with the issue are arguably a greater crisis of human dignity and public health. That city has a higher per-capita rate of homelessness, sprawling tent cities that cover multiple acres, and it recorded 160 fires at encampments in 2019. In hopes of elusive solutions, or even just a solid grasp on the extent of the problem, KPIX reports that the city is instituting a homelessness audit that would be similar to the biannual point-in-time count but would also determine the number of encampments, and whether the status quo of clearing them is even an effective use of taxpayer money.
The audit is the brainchild of councilmember Nikki Fortunado Bas, who’s been advocating hard for the Moms 4 Housing, and city auditor Courtney Ruby. “The audit should shine a light on whether our strategies are effective or not,” Ruby told KPIX. “At the end of the day, it’s my job to hold City Hall accountable that we move the needle on this crisis.”
KPIX’s report takes a long stroll through West Oakland’s Wood Street encampment, a massive tent city that covers nearly four acres. Oakland had pursued the laudable goal of turning it into a safe RV encampment facility, but several months later the city is still struggling to get people out. The site is littered with detritus and abandoned automobiles, and many attempts to remove people have become ugly and contentious.
“They said we could got to tuff sheds, but if we do that, we lose our trailers,” Wood Street camper Niki Wolf told KPIX. “You’re only allowed to be in the tuff sheds six months. So after that, where do we go?”
Oakland will not have the results of this new audit until June. But the city spent $32 million combatting homelessness last year, much of it spent on private companies and outside vendors who’d promised solutions that have clearly not materialized.
Image: fabola via Flickr