Oakland Begins Shutting Down Homeless Camp Near Home Depot

The city of Oakland took steps Tuesday to clear out a sprawling homeless camp near a Home Depot store in East Oakland.

It's step one of many for the city, as it plans to permanently close down the large camp that sits on both city-owned and private property. Homeless advocates say at least 60 people live there.

The challenge for the city is where to move them all.

"I hate it, it sucks," said Frenchie Munch, who is being moved out of the camp along with dozens of others.

Packing up and moving their inoperable RVs feels like an impossible task.

"I’m loading up what I can," said Pattie "Willow" Eatherly. "I have to be pulled out; the person that is supposed to pull me, their RVs are not starting right now."

The city of Oakland said it plans to clear the homeless camp completely by the end of the year. On Tuesday, crews focused on removing heaps of debris and abandoned cars to allow fire trucks and sanitation trucks easier access to the camp.

"We’re closing it down," said Joe DeVries, assistant to the city administrator. "If this area caught on fire, all we could do is stand outside and shoot a hose in from a distance, and that would lead to loss of life."

The city says it will open a secure RV parking site with resources for those who live in RVs. Those who live in tiny makeshift homes got a pass Tuesday. But it’s unclear what will happen to them in the weeks to come.

"I’m probably gonna buy a tent and do something simple," Munch said.

City officials say there have been 158 fires this year that started in homeless camps. In the days to come, the city says it plans to paint a fire lane to allow fire crews to enter the camp in case of an emergency.

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