Monday, May 7, 2007

Should Oakland Fund a Homeless "Tent City"?

By Kara Platoni
Mon, May 7, 2007 at 4:54 PM

Today's Oakland Tribune has an interesting article on a proposal to set up a year-round "tent city" for homeless people at the former Army base that would provide drop-in medical and mental health care, substance abuse counseling, and try to move twenty people from the camp to permanent shelter every month. "During the course of a year in Oakland, about 6,300 people are homeless at one time or another, with more than 900 people living on the streets for a year or more," reporter Cecily Burt writes. "A quarter of Oakland's homeless population are families with children." However, she points out, there are many obstacles such a proposal would have to overcome, and not just the nearly $1 million price tag. Chief among them will be convincing people used to a life of homelessness to come indoors, and dealing with substance abuse problems or mental illnesses that may be entertwined with their reasons for living on the streets. Can a plan like this work? Tell us what you think.

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