28 homeless people are being paid by the city of Albany, California, the sum of $3,000 each, in an agreement that will see them pack up and leave - for at least a year - an area of town slated to become a park. The Albany city government negotiated the settlement with the East Bay Community Law Center in what's being described as a "bittersweet" decision.
What's known as the "Albany Bulb" is a 31-acre former landfill that's become a favorite of dog walkers, pot smokers, photographers, hikers, artists, tourists, and of course the aforementioned homeless community. But it's scheduled to become part of the Eastshore State Park, a 9-mile long (partial) wilderness area along the east side of the San Francisco bay. So campers...well they gotta go.
Below: Some highlights from the "bulb"
"Overall, there's a sense of loss," said the East Bay Community Law Center's Osha Neumann. "I think it's great they're getting some money, but it's lousy that Albany spent all this money on this issue when they could have been helping these people."
It should be noted that another 25 homeless individuals will be required to leave Albany Bulb even though they aren't covered by the settlement. Where will they go? Nearby Richmond or Berkeley, speculated Neumann.
Paying the Homeless to Leave
The idea of paying off the homeless has been criticized, even as cash is as direct a material resource placed in the hands of the indigent as one can get, in theory satisfying both progressive demands for state aid and the libertarian disdain for paternalism (i.e soda bans). But the settlement in Albany is fairly unique. A report last summer on Hawaii's "paying" the homeless to leave the islands was in fact about a policy of purchasing airplane tickets for them. A similar 2009 initiative in NYC paid the travel costs for some of the city's thousands of homeless, provided they had family to stay with at their destination.
"What we're doing is passing the problem of homelessness to another city," said one critic of then-mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Essentially, this family is still homeless."
Is the $3,000 in the hands of some Albany homeless a way around that problem? Not likely, given the bay area's sky-high rents. But at the center of any disagreement over outright payments to the homeless lies this question: Is the point of efforts to help the homeless to actually place them in a home, or simply ease some of their daily burdens?
Via the San Francisco Chronicle.