Making It in the Bay

Oakland Church Goers Want City to House the Homeless

"I don’t know what the answer is but something needs to be done"

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New Parks Chapel AME Church in Oakland is growing concerned over the amount of homeless people living in the church's surrounding area.

Church authorities have reached out to authorities about the issue, but they don't want them to simply clear out the encampment. Instead, they want the city of Oakland and Caltrans to give the homeless housing.

Reverend Doctor Rosalynn Kyle Smith Brookins of New Parks Chapel AME Church said the encampment behind her church parking lot is starting to take over the nearby cul de sac. By her count, approximately 25 people call it home. 

According to Brookins, they have seen several things happen at the encampment. From babies being born, fires, a dog attacking local seniors and even murder.

She said they've tried to feed and provide clothing to the homeless, "but it's getting worse."

Carlo Serrano lives in a tiny home in the encampment behind the church and said there are not a lot of options available for people like him, especially during the pandemic.

"It’s really stressful trying to figure out if we were to get kicked out from here, what we’re going to do," he said.

Councilmember Carroll Fife says Caltrans has indicated they plan to clear out the camp, and added neither Caltrans nor the city has any plans to offer permanent housing. 

She scouted an empty lot that belongs to Caltrans on Third Street and Peralta.

"We will have housing, shower facilities, we will have electricity a humane place for people to stay," she said.

"I don’t know what the answer is but something needs to be done," Jovine Hankins, Oakland resident said.

In order to move forward with Fife's plan, there needs approval from the city and Caltrans.

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