Residents of an unhoused community along Wood Street in Oakland demonstrated outside City Hall on Tuesday, asking local leaders for a place to sleep as Caltrans is evicting them from their current home.

During their peaceful vigil, the residents said they want to work in unison with city leaders such as the City Council and city administration on a solution. They also want the city to open at least 8 acres of the North Gateway parcel on the former Oakland Army Base where residents can live. Wood Street residents want the city to cut through red tape. Otherwise, they may be scattered throughout the city.

“This is a crisis,” said James Vann, an early founder of the Homeless Advocacy Working Group in the city. “And the city has to act like it’s a crisis.”

City officials are opposed to letting Wood Street residents live on the North Gateway parcel because of challenges involving toxic substances and federal restrictions on residential use of the land.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.