Large Vehicle Encampment Runs Through One of the Wealthiest Zip Codes in the U.S.

·3 min read

Affordable housing in the very beautiful and very expensive San Fransisco Bay area is far out of many residents’ grasp, leading to a rise in unhoused people camping in the longest vehicle encampment in the Marin County.

Now surrounding cities in Marin Country are pushing to end the encampment, not by trashing homes and belongings as other California cities have done, but by helping people find the services they need.

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There have always been a few vehicles parked on Bimford Road, which is a frontage road along Highway 101, but the unhoused population exploded during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Now there are at least 135 vehicles parked on the shoulder. While cities have made sleeping in a vehicle on public streets illegal, Bimford Road is unincorporated, making it one of the last places in the area where people in RVs can stay.

The state awarded the surrounding cities of Novato, Sausalito and San Rafael half a million each to ease homeless in unincorporated areas. Their first priority is to move people off of Bimford and into stable housing, the San Fransisco Chronicle reports:

The population growth on Binford has come to embody the severe affordability crisis in wealthy Marin County, which has been struggling to contain the rising visibility of encampments across the region as low-income residents find they have nowhere else to go.

With the new round of funding for unincorporated areas, “the first and immediate priority is Binford,” Naja-Riese said. The county is also planning to hire a full-time social worker who will assist encampment residents directly with issues like housing and will help identify how the funds should best be used, he said.

This funding follows continuing efforts to support the roughly 80 residents along Binford Road. Some have multiple vehicles at the site, where a few also sit abandoned.

Each month, organizations come out for a service fair to help encampment dwellers with everything from clearing criminal records, applying for housing and receiving food and medical services such as blood tests, hepatitis C testing, prescription refills and physicals.

Many of the people on Bimford Road are long time residents of Marin County who have simply lost jobs, affordable housing or their good health. Social workers told the Chronicle that, of the residents well enough to work full time, none can afford housing in ritzy Marin County. Marin is one of the richest counties in the U.S. with a median household income of $131,000. It’s also home to one of the wealthiest cities in all of California — Belvedere, with a per home median income of $223,000, SFGate reports. The residents of Belvedere are battling a housing development that includes a measly five affordable housing units out of 42.

When you don’t like seeing unhoused people, but fight even the smallest movement towards affordable housing, you should just say the quiet part like and say you don’t like people poorer than you existing.

Correction: This encampment is not the longest in the U.S. but is the longest in Marin County. We regret the error.

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