OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — On Monday, KPIX 5 asked Oakland city leaders if the Tuff Shed villages were doing enough to remedy the city’s homeless problem. The city program is aimed at combating unlivable homeless encampments with more inhabitable spaces, but it hasn’t yet lived up to the task.
When the Tuff Shed villages show up, the surrounding areas containing homeless encampments get cleaned. But just blocks away, the camps often reappear in just as bad or even worse conditions than before.
Even Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who voted for the sheds, had his doubts about the effectiveness of the villages.
“For me, it’s not the solution,” he said.
“We can rent a bus, and send them [the homeless] back to San Francisco.”
Other city officials said that while the sheds are not a long term answer for the homeless crisis, they are getting short term results.
“The goal is to meet the needs of the unsheltered and the needs of the city,” said Joe Devries, the Assistant to the City Administrator of Oakland.
The city is putting up a Tuff Shed village next to Laney College by the old Kaiser Convention Center near Lake Merritt. It hopes to clear out the encampments that have sprung up on the lake in the past year.
“The current encampments have caused half a million dollars of damage in the wetlands area,” said Devries. “We pull out needles, we pull out garbage, a lot of human waste.”
KPIX 5 spoke with some homeless people who said they were ready to move into the Tuff Shed villages.
“It would get me off of the pavement, and they have a program where I can get affordable housing,” said Derick, a homeless man living in a tent under an underpass.
However, others don’t approve of the villages.
“A lot of people say it’s going to be like a concentration camp,” said Ricardo, another homeless man.
In 2017, the city of Oakland cleaned up a large area on the Emeryville border; it set up programs for the affected homeless but prohibited anymore homeless from camping in the area.
But it came back bigger than ever–this time, the city supplied the camp with port-a-potties and garbage cans.
“Well, you have to be realistic,” said Devries. “I would rather have human waste captured in port-a-potties and I’d rather have garbage cans and needle boxes for people than have them found all over the street. So it’s a balance.”