At least 109 individuals living in Richmond city limits have no home to return. This is according to the annual Point in Time count, a county-wide assessment conducted on one night of the year that tallies the number of people sleeping outside.
But the Richmond Police Department reports encountering up to 800 separate individuals sleeping outside on any given night.
The situation is desperate. Research indicates that homeless individuals live shorter lives, endure higher rates of mental illness, drug addiction, poor health and injury than their sheltered counterparts. Still, people without homes are often dismissed as careless or crazy, the lasting legacy of a stigma that has its roots in the Great Depression era, when welfare programs were introduced in the United States.
No one knows what to do with Point Molate, a 290-acre bayside property acquired by Richmond in 1995. The point, called a “jewel” by some, is on land previously owned by the US Navy and footsteps away from the Chevron refinery. The Point Molate Citizens Advisory Committee was supposed to help the city and Richmond residents manage the area and figure out how to develop it in the future, but earlier this year it was disbanded suddenly by the mayor.
Nikki Beasley is executive director of Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services, a nonprofit developed in the 1980s to address housing inequities, particularly those created by practices such as redlining and discriminatory lending. She’s served in her current position for little more than a year, but in that time she’s made it clear she’ll be showing up and speaking her mind when it counts.
The Richmond Police Department reports up to 800 live on the streets of Richmond every night, but there is currently no dedicated fund for the homeless in the city. Local advocate Kathy Robinson is the head of the city’s new homeless task force, and she’s determined not to let it go on like this.
When Cesar Zepeda, president of Hilltop’s Neighborhood Council, met with investors and developers prior to LBG’s purchase, he emphasized the Hilltop community’s vision: a mixed-use development that incorporates affordable housing units. But while housing is needed all over the Bay Area, Zepeda said the new owners and the community need to be “realistic and understand what the Hilltop area is able to give.”
It’s not 9,600 housing units, he said.
The six-story Hacienda development, which once held 150 units of of public housing, fell into disrepair, and residents were relocated in 2015. Richmond City Council has now authorized Mercy Housing, a nonprofit, to redevelop the property, but their plans are contingent on funding for the project, which would cost an estimated $25 to 30 million.