Sanitation coming to makeshift RV camp on Rydin Road in Richmond
on March 24, 2021
For months, Richmond City Council has debated how and where to safely accommodate people who are making their homes in caravans along the city’s streets.
While a solution remains elusive, the council has decided to work with Contra Costa County and the community to come up with a long-term plan.
At its March 16 meeting, the council agreed to form a committee focused on the issue. It also approved spending $560,000 to move some of those living in cars, vans and recreational vehicles into hotels and to provide sanitation services to those parked along Rydin Road.
Council members Claudia Jiménez and Eduardo Martinez devised the measure with Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia after residents balked at two other council proposals — to create a safe parking program in the Hilltop Mall parking lot or at the Civic Center.
Martinez said the group tried to craft a plan with humanity, quality and sustainability in mind. He stressed that any discussion must include the people most affected, those living in vehicles, tents or on the street.
The Housing Consortium of the East Bay will manage the program, which is intended to improve security and sanitation at the makeshift Rydin Road camp. It also will work with individuals to identify pathways to stable housing.
“This is not about turning Rydin Road into a permanent RV safe park,” Gioia said. “It’s about working with those residents with the funding we have in an intense way to make their living situation healthier, safer and more secure, and move them into housing directly.”
In January 2020, 1,750 people in Richmond were without homes, including more than 600 who were living in vehicles, according to a report by city staff. That was before the pandemic put many people out of work, closed shelters and increased the number of people needing housing.
Since the pandemic, people have resorted to living in their cars, vans and RVs, which are parked along thoroughfares across the Bay Area. In Richmond, makeshift vehicle camps have been established on Rydin Road and North Castro Street, to the consternation of nearby residents.
Gioia commended the city for trying to address the issue. He noted that the reopening of shelters, which is expected by summer, should ease the problem. And, he said, those living in makeshift camps will be surveyed to determine their needs.
The council passed the measure that Jiménez and Martinez floated by a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Tom Butt dissenting. Butt favors parking RVs on North Castro Street, which he sees as a more manageable site that could accommodate vehicles now parked on Rydin Road. He said he fears nothing will change on Rydin Road under the new plan.
Richmond has until the end of June to use $260,000 in state funding to address the housing problem. The city has committed an additional $300,000.
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