[Hpn] Police Target Underground Homeless Camp;Oakland, California;11/15/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Thu, 15 Nov 2001 22:33:36 -0500

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Local - KPIX - updated 9:16 PM ET Nov 15

Thursday November 15 08:03 PM EST
[Oakland, California]

Police Target Underground Homeless Camp

By KPIX - Sherry Hu

In Oakland, some homeless have moved underground.

You typically see the homeless on the streets, bedded down in doorways or 
under freeways. But Oakland police wanted to show us another side of the 
homeless, where the sights and smells are overpowering. It's a homeless 
encampment officers discovered complete with a TV, refrigerator, and lights.

"It's problematic for the public," said Lt. Ed Poulson. "We have individuals 
living under here. There are unsanitary conditions, close to a biohazard."

The camp is underneath 12th Street, next to Lake Merritt. It's a cavern of 
small rooms, with pirated power, probably stolen from the city of Oakland. 
In one room, someone has hooked up a microwave and painted the walls.

Someone has gone to a lot of effort to make it home, but Poulson says it's 
not legal. The homeless have been given notice and face a fine and arrest 
unless they clear out.

"Now that they're aware, we'll continue to enforce it, and keep people from 
setting up shop, largely for their own safety," Poulson said.

Officers will try to get the homeless into shelters and counseling.

"We can't just always enforce laws," Poulson said. "We have to provide 
services to have people get help."

Yet when it comes to beds, there simply aren't enough for the 9,000 
estimated homeless in Alameda County. A wintertime overflow shelter, with 
100 extra beds, opens Thursday night, but there are still more homeless than 
places for them to stay.

Alex McElree, with Operation Dignity, has joined forces with Oakland police 
to reach people on the streets. Even though some homeless will refuse to 
stay in shelters, McElree won't give up.

"This is a problem that can be solved, if everybody makes up their minds to 
want to solve it," McElree said. "Set aside whether they choose to get help 
or not. It's irrelevant. You want to be there in case they change their mind 
and that's what we do."

For more Bay Area news and information, visit the PIX Page at kpix.com.


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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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