28 homeless people given $3,000 each to stop trespassing
Image via Google EarthMost of the media in the San Francisco Bay Area, where this happened, think that’s barely a start toward achieving social justice. See, for example, this account from KQED, the PBS-affiliated San Francisco television station:
It’s nice work, if you can get it. Squat on public land, refuse to leave, get a law firm to represent you for free, and then get $3k if you “agree” to leave. The plot of land involved is a small peninsula jutting into San Francisco Bay, known as “The Albany Bulb.” The Bulb is slated to become part of a regional park encompassing much of the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay:
Image via Google Earth
Most of the media in the San Francisco Bay Area, where this happened, think that’s barely a start toward achieving social justice. See, for example, this account from KQED, the PBS-affiliated San Francisco television station:
Some people living in campsites on the Albany Bulb will get $3,000 each to leave as part of a settlement between the East Bay City of Albany and 28 residents of the persistent encampment.
People who signed the settlement must leave the Bulb by Friday, April 25, and they have agreed to stay away from public open spaces in Albany, including the Bulb and Albany Hill, for a year.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the settlement of the federal lawsuit today. East Bay Community Law Center attorney Osha Neumann told KQED’s Sara Hossaini that he has mixed feelings about the resolution.
“For those that are getting the money, that’s going to help, and they are so unused to getting anything when they’re kicked from one place to another,” Neumann said. “I am sad that what we were not able to get is, for all the people who are out here, an alternative place where they could stay. I’m really worried that a lot of the people who were out here are going to end up back on the street.”
Neumann said the lawsuit was in large part an attempt to force Albany to provide homeless transition services for all of the people at the Bulb as the city inched closer in its decades-long effort to convert the land into a state park.
Osha Neumann works with another volunteer to help collect statements from the residents of the Albany Bulb in their legal battle to fight eviction. (Sara Bloomberg/KQED)
“Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s happened, and for many of them, that’s very, very sad,” Neumann said.
There are no limits on what the windfall must be sued for, of course, and the money is just the beginning of the largesse:
In addition to the $84,000 settlement announced today, Albany contracted the nonprofit Berkeley Food and Housing Project for more than $60,000 to help the city’s homeless population find permanent housing — not an easy task in the Bay Area. The city then expanded its park transition plan to $500,000, which included funding for temporary shelter buildings near the Bulb.
The city of Albany, a small municipality with a large tax base thanks to a race track within its city limits and a police force that is renowned for keeping the crime rate low, has also extracted an agreement that:
…participating Bulb residents agree to "stay away from Albany Bulb and Neck, the City-owned property on Pierce street, and Albany Hill areas in the City of Albany for a period of 12 months."
According to the attorney representing the homeless, they are expected to move to neighboring Berkeley or Richmond, becoming somebody else’s “clients” for social services.