Residents forced out of East Bay homeless housing village after communication breakdown

Residents forced out of East Bay homeless housing village after communication breakdown
Photo Credit: B.O.S.S.
By Wesley Severson - Published on December 21, 2021.

A tiny home village set up by Alameda County in San Leandro is apparently causing some big-time headaches for both the residents and the operators. The site opened just three months ago at the county complex near Fairmont Drive and Foothill Boulevard. According to Bay Area News Group, several residents now say they have had to leave the tiny home site without a backup plan for alternative housing. Some claim they’ve been “threatened with removal” from the site.

“For the first time in a long time, I thought wow, I might be a normal human being again. And then to just pull the rug out from under me,” 66-year-old former resident Patricia Smith told Bay Area News Group. Smith has lived the last few weeks in her car after staying just over two months at the tiny home site. 19 tiny homes at the site are earmarked for people who are in the process of working with county officials on a permanent housing plan for themselves. The other 15 units are labeled as medical respite units which are designed to help people recover from medical procedures for about 45-days. 

One part of the problem appears to be a communication breakdown by the site operators. Smith tells Bay Area News Group that she didn’t know that the unit she moved into was a medical respite unit that she would have to move out of so soon. The non-profit group ‘Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency’ partners with the county to run the site. “Certainly our partners and all concerned need to do better with that communication,” Donald Frazier with Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency told Bay Area News Group. Frazier says Smith had the choice to move into two shelters but turned down both. But Smith says she was never referred. “We do not put people out on the streets. That is not what we do,” Frazier says.

The goal of the site, according to the county, is to have the people living in the 15 medical units transfer to the 19 tiny homes that require an active relationship with the county toward finding permanent housing, but there are just not enough units at the site to serve everyone. Despite that, county officials remain hopeful the site will be useful to people struggling. “We have a lot of confidence that we will get the kinks out of the system and hopefully move toward a lot of really successful, happy housing placements from the site,” Alameda County Homeless Care and Coordination Director Kerry Abbott told Bay Area News Group.