California Governor Gavin Newsom is promising hundreds of millions of more dollars to tackle the homelessness seen around state highways, but many are wondering if the same old strategy of relocation is actually effective.
"I've been around Wood Street now for about 10 or 12 years," said Yvette Wright. "Wherever there's somewhere to be I've probably been there."
It's been about seven months now since Wright, and some 200 to 300 others, were removed from Oakland's Wood Street encampment. One of California's largest at the time, the state and Caltrans declared the situation unsustainable and announced a massive clearing and relocation operation.
"It did not remove the people," Wright said. "Because where are all of them going to go?"
Some, like Wright, have landed in some of the city's nearby tiny homes, but a drive around this area makes it perfectly clear that a lot of people just moved to the next available block, packing side streets with cars, campers, and even boats.
"And they really have," Wright said of the various makeshift homes. "They've been here for so long."
"The public has had it.," Newsom said during his announcement. "They're fed up. I'm fed up. We're all fed up."
Newsom says the additional $300 million dollars, on top of $400 million already allocated, will go to cities to clear encampments around highways, like the effort under Interstate 80.
"This encampment resolution will help us do even more with our state right of ways, state property," Newsom declared.
"All these millions of dollars," Wright said of the spending. "If they had truly gone towards the agenda, the objective, or whatever, we wouldn't still be here on the street."
The Wood Street operation may have cleared the Caltrans land, but it ultimately didn't bring long term answers for all of those shuffled beyond the property lines. So what will change now?
"I can't say exactly what the solution is," Wright added. "Some people belong inside. Some people don't really want to be inside. So what do you do for those people? It's a very difficult situation."
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