Albany Paying Homeless $3,000 to Vacate Area for State Park

The City of Albany is shelling out thousands of dollars to homeless people in an attempt to clear a tract of land for an eventual state park.

A lawsuit by the East Bay Community Law Center forced the city's hand to offer the buyout to homeless residents.

As of Wednesday, the city has agreed to pay 28 homeless residents $3,000 each to move out of a homeless camp at the Albany Bulb and stay out of the area for at least a year. About 45 people live at the Bulb.

"They were going to kick us out anyway, so I opted for the $3,000," said David Justus, a homeless person who jumped at the city's offer.

Amber Whitson rejected the deal. She has lived at the Bulb for seven years and has been deemed the unofficial mayor of the camp.

"It's somewhere magical where people of all walks of all abilities and disabilities come and create and bond with nature," Whitson said. "It's the closest thing to nature in the urbanized Bay Area."

The homeless residents who accepted the buyout must be out of the area by Friday, while the rest refusing to leave will be cited and could end up in jail, officials said.

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