Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 29, 2018

Wildly supported evictions

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

One of my main issues with any conversation around homeless families and individuals is the generality in which we speak about this population.  It’s easy to vilify and turn into a great big bogeyman because the majority of us chiming in on the subject (particularly the majority that opposes services for homeless populations or cheer the removal of encampments) are comfortably housed and probably not at risk of becoming homeless.

Take this really quickie article in the Alameda Sun, here’s how it concluded:

“There is a major problem with multiple homeless encampments at the Union Point Park,” a Nov. 13, 2017, complaint filed with the city read. “This results in large unsightly piles of trash and debris, rampant illegal drug use and discarded hypodermic needles. It makes this park unsafe.”

On May 15 the City of Oakland responded with a major cleanup project. The city plans to move through the park in stages, cleaning and evicting those who have set up camp there on the way. Supporters of the cleanup call it a “huge development that should be wildly supported by the members of the community who want to use the park as intended.”

But what happened to the people in those homeless encampments?  The article doesn’t say and clearly the “[s]upporters of the cleanup” don’t really care because they’re telling us that we should be “wildly support[ing]” the move.

I’m sure if we Venn diagramed out supporters of the cleanup and community members opposing the APC wellness and respite center proposal we’d find a healthy overlap.

Here was one couple that lived in that Union Point Park encampment profiled in Mother Jones in 2016.  Naturally, Alameda is willing to have one half of the pair work under the table in our city, but we’re loathe to consider how that couple is surviving.  From Mother Jones:

Donna and Louie tell me this story from outside their encampment, Louie seated on a turned-over milk crate and Donna on a worn pink ottoman. “I don’t know how we got here,” Louie says, crying. “We’re stuck and we’re trying to stay positive,” Donna says.

Toward the end of the month, Donna and Louie will eat less meat and more cereal. They’ll mostly skip lunches, and when money thins even more, they’ll both go without breakfast. On the first of the month, Donna heads to the Social Security office to pick up her check, an amount that comes out to an average of about $150 per week. Louie contributes to the larder by working under the table for an Italian restaurant in the nearby town of Alameda. He sweeps, mops, and washes dishes in exchange for a few meals at the end of the night. He’ll get to bring home a to-go box of fries, spaghetti, or Donna’s favorite: salad.

Since it’s about to rain, Donna wishes she could make soup: celery and carrots and chicken, something they can live off of for a couple of days. But their big soup pot got crushed a few weeks ago when the city cleared out camp. “They’re supposed to store them or something,” Donna says. “But everything got crushed. That was devastating.” Government agencies often do “sweeps” through homeless camps, sometimes destroying or confiscating any property.

Then there is this profile of homeless Veterans in Los Angeles (but don’t think that we don’t have our share in the Bay Area).  This part resonated for me because it’s exactly what the Friends of Crab Cove were attempting to do: to tell us to think about the children, when in fact it was the adults who are fearful:

Marc Cote, a five-year Army veteran who lives in a tent in Westwood Park, a few blocks from the VA hospital, wants to be left alone. Cote pushes himself around backwards in a wheelchair, using public bathroom sinks to clean up — what the homeless refer to as “birdbaths.” Parents walk by holding their children’s hands heading to soccer games and tennis matches. “The parents tell us we scare their children but I think the parents are scared more than the children,” he says.

In light of Memorial Day where we do a really excellent job of honoring our fallen soldiers, we do the much more reprehensible every other day: ignore our soldiers that have served and have fallen on very hard times.  But even more so, we ignore the people in our community who are struggling by waging a quality of life war against people who do not have the ability to fight on a level playing field because they’re fighting just to survive every single day.

A reminder of our own local problem:

 

 

5 Comments

  1. “The parents tell us we scare their children but I think the parents are scared more than the children,” he says.

    There is a lot of truth to that and it should make anyone who is uncomfortable seeing homeless/disabled/mentally ill/different looking from yourself people stop and think a bit.

    Comment by Spanky McDoogle (@SpankyMcDoogle) — May 29, 2018 @ 11:02 am

    • Union Point park used to be very nice, I often brought my kids there in the pre-school years. We don’t use the park for that anymore but I still regularly ride past that park on my bike. I’ve watched in real time as the needles and trash have piled up, as the bike thieves have gotten more brazen, and the prostitution has gotten more open. No responsible parent would ever bring a child there.

      Comment by dave — May 29, 2018 @ 11:12 am

      • Be fair. I was not saying anyone should consider taking their child around needles, prostitutes, thieves, etc. I was just pointing out that maybe adults should show a little more empathy toward the actual human beings they are fearful of as opposed to just wanting to ‘get rid of them’. The way a child would think..

        Comment by Spanky McDoogle (@SpankyMcDoogle) — May 29, 2018 @ 12:48 pm

  2. Great Yelp revues; https://www.yelp.com/biz/union-point-park-oakland “Bike chop Shop, if you have had a bike stolen from Alameda-look here first!…”

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2018 @ 11:51 am

  3. Wow. The MJ article was very moving and heartbreaking, especially because I am so familiar with that park. My response to this article was “what can I do to help relieve some of this tragic suffering and offer hope”? Not only will I help support APC’s proposal for a respite center, but I looked up the Food Recovery Network and Food Runners and will look into my family engaging with them. I pray that a lot more people have similar responses than the alternative (ignore, hold the nose, or blame).

    Comment by dya — May 31, 2018 @ 2:52 pm


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