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City starts effort to clean up West Oakland homeless encampment

The City of Oakland is in the midst of a planned cleanup at the Wood Street homeless encampment, located between West Grand and 26th Street in West Oakland.

This week’s cleanup aims to remove abandoned structures and debris. It’s the first step towards replacing some of the encampment with an emergency shelter. According to the city, about a dozen homeless residents will be displaced. The city says half have accepted – or expressed willingness to accept – shelter elsewhere.

Wood Street homeless resident John Janosko told KALW that some of the clean up so far has been of property that was not abandoned. He says he’s counted nine structures demolished this week that belong to his neighbors. He says 22 of his homeless neighbors have lost their belongings in this week’s cleanup.

An estimated 300 people live at the Wood Street homeless encampment. But the site has been a dangerous one for Oakland’s homeless. Several dozen fires have broken out at the site this past year, including a fire near 34th street earlier this week.

This cleanup work – planned months ago – is slated to be completed by today. The emergency shelter project is funded by a $4.7M grant from the state.

Lusen Mendel / they is a KALW Summer News Journalism intern and News Reporter for Crosscurrents.