Man shot at long-problematic RV encampment in Richmond

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Man shot at long-problematic RV encampment in Richmond
Photo by Kat Wilcox.

A 36-year-old man was injured in a shooting Sunday at the Castro homeless encampment in North Richmond, where police say calls for service have been “consistent for many months now.”

The victim, described as a homeless man who was likely living at the encampment located in the areas of Castro and Hensley streets, was shot in the abdomen at 2:30 p.m. before being airlifted to a hospital, according to Richmond police spokesperson Lt. Matthew Stonebraker. He was listed in serious but stable condition after he underwent surgery, Lt. Stonebraker said.

The shooting is under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.

Rampant fires and criminal activity at city encampments have been vexing issues for Richmond and has led to staunch criticism over the Richmond City Council’s handling of the crisis.

Last year, the Council allocated about $1.5 million to RV encampments with the ultimate goal of getting RV dwellers into stable housing. A majority of those funds were spent to support people at a recently-cleared RV encampment on Ryind Road, but it’s unclear whether those evicted campers will secure sustainable housing. A local nonprofit’s recent social media report on the whereabouts of evicted campers states that most were relocated to motels or interim housing or were staying with friends or family as they undergo a coordinated transition plan.

Now, the city is hoping a recently-awarded $4.8 million state grant will send campers at the larger Castro Street encampments on a pathway to sustainable housing.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt has expressed fears that the funds will ultimately be squandered via continued bad policies by the RPA members who hold a majority vote on City Council, which he says ultimately enabled the prolonged existence of dangerous encampments. 

“The cost of an apartment for a year is about $20,000,” Mayor Butt said in his E-Forum newsletter. “The RPA-controlled City Council has spent over $1.5 million perpetuating homeless camps when they could have used the same amount of money to provide housing for at least 75 persons.”