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Oakland Hit With Lawsuit Over Failure To Clean Up Homeless Camps

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Several groups have filed a lawsuit against the City of Oakland for failing to enforce a policy requiring the city to clean up homeless encampments and move residents into housing.

Last October, the Oakland City Council passed the Encampment Management Policy (.pdf), which stated that the encampments were supposed to be removed after six months and folks moved into housing. Calling themselves the "We Deserve Better" alliance, the groups have has filed a 70-page lawsuit against the city for failing to enforce the policy.

"We spent a bunch of money hiring people to do it and then it was virtually ignored," Seneca Scott from the alliance said at a press briefing on Thursday.

Among the problems, a simple lack of housing for the unhoused population. "You cannot close a camp down and evict anyone without having a place for them to live that's equal or better than their current situation," Scott went on to say.

Rachel, who also spoke at the event, said she and her wife are running into this problem. They find a complex that takes housing vouchers but the caseworkers are overloaded and don't get back to them.

"Some think that we all want to be out here, but that is not the case, ladies and gentlemen. Some of us want housing. Some of us are putting forward the effort to do what we can," said Rachel.

Melissa Bookin from the Oakland Compassion Project said that nonprofits competing against each other must start working together to find solutions.

"Talk to your unhoused neighbors, learn from them as I have over the last year and a half along with Vince about the seemingly insurmountable number of obstacles they face in achieving their desires to lift themselves up out of homelessness," Bookin said.

The lawsuit filed is not seeking cash, but rather enforcement of Encampment Management Policy.

KPIX 5 reached out to city officials for comment but did not hear back as of Thursday evening.

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