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Outreach services help 41 homeless in Alameda, report says

ALAMEDA — Forty-one people have received services from the nonprofit that the city brought in to help the homeless as part of beginning work to create the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.
The individuals were contacted in seven areas across Alameda, including Park Street and near the Main Street ferry terminal, as well as the former Alameda Belt Line property, where the future park is being built, according to Operation Dignity.
The help has included the distribution of 1,000 health kits and enrolling individuals in an Alameda County tracking system so they can learn about opportunities for housing and other services, the City Council heard Tuesday during an update on the effort.
“We are out there every day, actively giving them food, hygiene kits, trying to hook them up with health services or anything else we think (they need),” said Marguerite Bachand, executive director of the Emeryville-based Operation Dignity.
About 30 people were living on the former railroad property when Alameda police served notices to vacate June 9, telling everyone they must move by July 10.
The future city park, which will eventually feature walking and bike paths and other amenities, totals about 22 acres near Nason Street and Constitution Way and includes a strip about 200 feet wide that runs east to Sherman Street.
“Most of the clients were understanding about the notice and knew that the clearing of the park had been planned for a long time; however, a few individuals were agitated,” the organization’s report said.
About 15 people were on the property on the final day, but everyone was gone as of the following morning.
Operation Dignity provided some with containers for their belongings that could be placed in public storage and reclaimed with 24 hours notice.
Bachand said she plans to meet with Alameda police Chief Paul Rolleri and officers who may encounter the homeless as part of the ongoing effort to provide help.
Since Operation Dignity began its work in Alameda six months ago, one veteran is now in permanent housing, a family-of-four is in interim housing; another two individuals, and possibly a third, are in the process of getting housing at the Alameda Point Collaborative, according to Amy Wooldridge, the Alameda Recreation and Park director who is also overseeing the city’s outreach effort.
“They are working very actively,” Wooldridge said about Operation Dignity. “Getting people into housing is very complex. It’s very individual to each person’s needs.”
One man, who was living behind the U.S. Bank on Webster Street, is now using a shelter in Berkeley, the organization’s report said.
Some people who were staying at the Belt Line have moved across the street behind Wind River Systems, while others are believed to now be in Oakland.
Bachand said outreach can be difficult because some people do not want their personal information entered into an Alameda County database for future help, while others move between contacts.
The City Council took no action Tuesday after receiving the update.
Operation Dignity will continue to provide case management services in Alameda through November.
Its report follows the Point in Time survey, which is conducted every two years across the country to gauge the number of people who are homeless or who don’t have a permanent place to live.
EveryOne Home, a nonprofit that seeks to end homelessness in Alameda County, administers the local survey, which was carried out Jan. 30. The results were released in May.
The survey counted 110 people homeless in Alameda and 94 people staying in cars, abandoned buildings or transitional housing.
In neighboring Oakland, the number totaled 2,761.
Alameda County’s overall homeless population was 5,629, with more than half of respondents saying economic hardship was the primary cause of their plight.
The report noted that median rents have increased 25 percent since 2015 in Alameda County, but that median household income increased just 5 percent.

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