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Oakland could lose millions in funding over huge homeless camp

Oakland could lose millions in funding over Wood St. homeless camp
Oakland could lose millions in funding over Wood St. homeless camp 02:36

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- The city of Oakland on Friday asked for more time to respond after Gov. Gavin Newson threatened to withhold funding to the city over the handling of its largest homeless encampment.

The Wood Street encampment in West Oakland stretches for almost a mile on land owned by the city, Caltrans, other public agencies and railroad companies.

Firefighters have responded to more than 100 blazes at the site in recent years.

Governor Newsom wants it gone. He said Oakland needs to provide temporary shelter for everyone at the encampment, not just people who camp on city-owned land, so they can clean it up and shut it down.

If that doesn't happen soon the state may claw back the $4.7 million it gave Oakland to address the encampment. Oakland officials say that's not enough money to provide shelter to the roughly 200 people at the site.

"It's just comical, almost, the back and forth that's going on between the city and the state," said Jorge Rocha, who lives a block away from the encampment.

"Stop pointing fingers. Please, just help the situation. If y'all want people gone, help the situation! Stop pointing fingers back at each other," said Ramona Choice, who has stayed at the Wood Street encampment for about five years.

Neighbors and the homeless said they don't care about the politics. They want both sides to work together for real action.

"Let's find a solution for the folks that are staying there and let's clean it up," Rocha said.

"I'm not against homeless people. I'm against the filth and the way people are living here. This is not healthy for us. It's not healthy for them. I think, if we work together and we have a beginning -- a start to this -- things will be much better," said Jon Sarriugarte, a business owner and a member of the West Oakland Commerce Association.

The governor's office demanded a response from Oakland by Friday but the city attorney said they will provide a detailed response next week.

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