Homelessness

New grant offers hope of housing for people encamped on Castro Street

Angelina Peña moved into a trailer in a vacant parking lot in North Richmond nine months ago.  “Unfortunately, hardship happened,” she said, offering a quick explanation of the predicament that took her away from her children and to the encampment where her sister was living.  Peña landed a job with Safe Organized Spaces, an advocacy group that donated the trailer she lives in alongside about 100 other residents at the Castro Street encampment. Named after its entrance at the intersection…

Richmond renter sues former landlord amid pandemic-era spike in harassment

These days Clara Realageno sleeps in her car. In the morning she packs up her things — a pillow, blankets, a suitcase and some toiletries — and drops them off at a friend’s house so they don’t get stolen while she’s at work. It’s been five months since Realageno’s landlord evicted her by changing the locks to her studio in Richmond. With nowhere else to go, Realageno now spends most nights in her backseat. In September, Realageno sued her former…

Fires at Castro encampment renew calls for safety at Richmond RV sites

Reggie Wiggins opened the door to his stepmother’s recreational vehicle in a Richmond encampment in the early hours of Oct. 8 and felt a wave of heat. Wiggins, who had been staying with his stepmother in an RV at a homeless encampment by the Richmond Parkway, saw a car and an RV on fire nearby.  “Everything was up in flames,” Wiggins, 30, said. “Ash flying up everywhere. It was a scary moment.” This site, often called the Castro Encampment because…

Racing to patch RV roofs ahead of the rain at Richmond encampment

Advocates worked Tuesday to weatherproof recreational vehicles at an encampment in Richmond in preparation for heavy rainfall this week.   Two Bay Area advocacy organizations — NeighborAid and Safe Organized Spaces! Richmond — spent the afternoon at Castro and Hensley streets, sealing cracks to protect as many of the nearly 30 parked vehicles there as they could.  Richmond City Council has debated how to better serve the many people living in vehicles. In January 2020, 1,750 people in Richmond were without…

Tough to Find Secure Housing During the Pandemic

It was a warm day in August when Gloria Schroeder received a panicked call from her roommate that they were being evicted. She had barely arrived for work after dropping off her 8-month-old daughter, Davina, at daycare.  The 22-year-old relied on public transport to get everywhere. Once she got closer to the house, she saw police outside. They told her she had five minutes to pack what she could and leave. If she didn’t, they would arrest her.  Panic and…