Oakland closes ‘model’ homeless encampment after fire

A regulated homeless camp where a fire burned 12 tents and a sanitation station Monday night in West Oakland will be decommissioned Friday, according a city councilwoman.

The fire broke out at 8:19 p.m. in the vicinity of 35th and Peralta streets, under Interstate Highway 580 in District 3, which is represented by City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The camp was the site of the Compassionate Communities pilot program, which McElhaney described as a “services-in-place model for regulating spontaneous camping communities.”

McElhaney said Thursday in a statement:

“This is a disappointing conclusion to what has been a largely successful City/County initiative that opened up new possibilities for improved service delivery to our most vulnerable residents.”

The decommissioning of the pilot had been planned before the fire, McElhaney said, and the camp’s residents will be referred to local shelters and health resources.

Monday’s fire, as well as the fatal blaze at 2551 San Pablo Ave. on March 27, underscore the city’s need to do more, according to McElhaney.

She plans to bring forward “bold proposals” for housing and public safety to address concerns raised by unregulated campsites during the city’s budget process.

There are roughly 2,000 homeless people living on the streets of Oakland, according to McElhaney.