The Oakland Post connected with displaced, unhoused residents in the wake of city- sanctioned closures of homeless encampments and found many have moved into less stable and safe arrangements.
“It’s just a problem no matter where we move or go [or] how discreet we try to be,” said Nicole Kahele, who grew up in Oakland and lives in an RV with her husband, Elijah Marra.
The City of Oakland evicted Kahele and Marra from a parking lot at Union Point on August 20. The bayside lot had provided space for more than 20 people. Its former residents claim the space helped them to look out for each other.
Since the eviction, Kehele and Marra say they have moved four times and police forced them to move two of those times. Kehele reports that they’ve lost 80 percent of their possessions from these moves because they’ve had limited time to pack. Marra lost tools for fixing bikes, which had provided him a source of income. They also lost a blanket that Kelehe had kept since her stay in the hospital when their son died in childbirth.
Kehele and Marra have rarely left their RV unoccupied since their move because they fear losing more possessions. Kehele says she has interest in staying in a city-sanctioned RV park but doesn’t know if there’s a way to apply since she and Marra rarely go out together. When the first, safe parking RV lot opened in the summer of 2019, Mayor Schaaf claimed it was invitation-only.
“Just knowing that my neighbor would watch my trailer,” said Trevor Vee, who also got evicted from Union Point on August 20. “It gave me a sense of security to be able to go out…and look for a job.”
Vee has moved five times since August 20. When he lived at Union Point, he could get temporary work because he was able to safely leave his trailer. While on the street and away from the encampment, he has been unable to work. When The Oakland Post interviewed him in early October, he was staying temporarily in a friend’s yard, which offered him some stability and work.
“When you have no source of income, it’s kind of hard to feed yourself and I was losing weight at a rapid pace,” said Vee. “Now that I’m on the yard I’ve got a sense of peace again and my weight’s starting to go back up.”
When The Oakland Post interviewed Vee in mid-October, his temporary stay with his friend was ending and he was moving out onto the street again.
The Oakland Post visited the Raimondi Park area in West Oakland after more than two dozen unhoused residents were evicted on Sept. 24, 2019, and heard that Tommy Alexander-Ayala, who’d lived near the park, was staying in a city-sanctioned RV park.
More than five tents have been moved from one side of the street that borders the park to the other side. Some residents have simply moved across the street but no longer have toilets or roadblocks to keep them safe from traffic as the city has removed them.
In nearby Berkeley, some homeless residents and their supporters are questioning the process of forcing homeless people to leave an area without giving them a safe alternative.
Under the slogan @WhereDoWeGoBerk, they successfully resisted an eviction that CalTrans had planned on Oct. 10 when more than two dozen unhoused residents refused to move from an encampment on University Avenue and the I-80 underpass. Housed residents pitched tents and also refused to move in solidarity.
“There’s nowhere they can be,” said Andrea Henson, an activist who pitched a tent at the encampment and helped to organize resistance to their eviction. Laws making staying on the sidewalk illegal in Berkeley have left its homeless population unsure of where they can legally go after an eviction.
“I’m not going to let my friend lose all his stuff while he’s at work,” said Henson to police in a video posted to Twitter where she protected the possessions of an unhoused resident who had to be at work during the attempted eviction.