Hoodline – “Oakland’s latest effort to house its homeless residents kicked off last week when the city opened the doors to 20 outdoor sheds on an empty lot near downtown. The structures will temporarily house 40 people who now live on the city’s streets, often in tents in one of dozens of encampments scattered across the city. The city selected a lot bordered by Sixth, Seventh, Castro, and Brush Streets, near the Interstate 880-980 merge in the Acorn district.”
My first reaction to this development is that the city is going to have a hard time getting people to stay in these encampments. You might be thinking “Why wouldn’t the homeless be excited about this? It’s a free opportunity for shelter and must be better than sleeping on the street.” The reality is that requiring a sign in/out and providing security guards may be a necessary safety step but it is going to make people wary of moving in.
I may be completely wrong about this, but the site has an internment camp feel to it that will likely scare away potential residents who are afraid of being fenced in. Aesthetics aside, what should the city do? Isn’t this a better alternative to the current status quo, where many of our streets are lined with tents and trash? Having a shared bathroom and non-profit hygiene services available on site also seem to be an obvious positive of this project.
If our two primary objectives when combatting homelessness are improving the quality of life for people living on the streets and improved safety and cleanliness on our streets, then I think the sheds are a decent short term answer to the problem.