By Mike Kinney
The City of Richmond is set to close down the large homeless encampment at 22nd Street and Carlson Boulevard Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
The move to shutter the encampment comes after the nearby Greater Richmond Interfaith Program opened a 30-space Warming Center on Monday. The center opens Monday through Saturday from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.
On March 5, dozens of people living in the homeless encampment were given notice to vacate. City officials say the encampment has increasingly become a public health and safety hazard and a drain on city resources. Their eviction was postponed, however, to wait for GRIP to open its new warming center, which was made possible by a grant from the Contra Contra Costa County Homeless Services and The Mayor’s Fund from the Richmond Community Foundation.
On Monday, city crews were putting up fencing at the encampment to keep campers out. We stopped by GRIP and spoke with case manager Larry Austin, the newly appointed director of the Warming Center, which is located in the dining area of the shelter’s cafeteria. Warmth and food will be provided to up to 30 individuals nightly, he said.
“In order to access these services, you do not show up at the door of the Warming Center,” Austin said. “You call 211 which is the County hotline for services, then the C.O.R.E mobile outreach team will come and pickup folks whereever they might be and bring them into the shelter.”
The contract for the Warming Center will last for the next year, but Austin says he hopes the services will continue beyond then.