After the controversial clearing of the enormous Wood Street encampment in West Oakland. The New York Times takes a look at what happened to the hundreds of people who were swept out.

A year ago this time, one of the most contentious topics in the Bay Area headlines was the on-again, off-again clearing of West Oakland’s Wood Street encampment, the largest homeless encampment in northern California that consituted a mile of tents, RVs, and a fair amount of illegal dumping. There were legal battles all summer over whether the city of Oakland and the property owner Caltrans could proceed with the tent and RV sweeps. But the encampment was surely also a public safety problem, with frequent fires that were occasionally fatal, and incidents of violence that clearly brought into question the safety of this arrangement for those camped there.

The Wood Street encampment was finally cleared in early May 2023, after months of starts and stops. So three months later, the New York Times has a new report on where those people are now.

“All told, 95 people accepted offers of shelter from either Alameda County or the City of Oakland,” the Times reports. “Dozens of them went to community cabins and an R.V. camp run by the city. A handful of others set up new camps on public property near the Wood Street site.”

Oakland did put in a 100-unit tiny-home village nearby earlier this year, accommodations described by the Times as “a bed, a folding chair, a desk and a mini fridge.” But residents complain they don’t get keys to those units, can’t have visitors, can’t keep many of their belongings, and have a six-month limit for staying there. “It’s not my home,” cabin resident John Janosko tells the Times. “My home was down the street.”

The Times also points to a September audit by the City of Oakland that noted nearly half of those tiny cabin residents ended up back on the streets after their time limit expired.

Governor Gavin Newsom toured the Wood Street site in April 2022, effectively starting this whole crackdown on the encampment. And maybe he’d call its clearing an accomplishment. But it might also be fair to criticize the state bureaucracy on this one, for as we noted last week, half of the entire country’s homeless population is here in California. For a state with just 12% of the overall U.S. population, those numbers are absolutely out of whack.

The Times notes there are a couple of success stories out of Wood Street, with at least a few people getting one-bedroom apartments using housing vouchers. But many others just scattered onto the streets elsewhere. And even if they’re camped somewhere else, many frequently congregate — guess where — at the former Wood Street encampment.

Related: Umpteenth Fire At Oakland's Wood Street Encampment Shuts Down Part of MacArthur Maze [SFist]

Image: Gov.CA.Gov