Share the Bulb condemns the City of Albany’s plans to evict the residents of the Albany Bulb and relocate them to 6-month temporary internment trailers that do not even begin to address homelessness in Albany.
The Albany Bulb is a unique treasure in the Bay Area. It is a beloved center for public art and community engagement, and has been home to hundreds of otherwise homeless individuals over several decades. Due to the hard work and artistic contributions of Bulb residents and allied community members, the former landfill has been transformed into one of the safest places for low- and no-income people to call Home in the Bay Area.
The City of Albany, encouraged by the Sierra Club and Citizens for Eastshore Parks, has shown no respect for the otherwise homeless individuals who live there or their right to housing, instead approaching the Albany Bulb as if the human beings who live there are a problem, and as if the solution is to criminalize their existence.
Share the Bulb has criticized the City of Albany’s inadequate plan to build temporary internment trailers in the parking lot of the Albany Bulb since it was first announced. Now that the trailers are open, we see just how insulting and insufficient this temporary “solution” is.
There are 49 current residents at the Bulb, but the internment trailers have room for only thirty people, stacked on top of each other in bunk beds. The trailers will only be open for six months. After that six-month period, Bulb residents who haven’t found housing elsewhere will be forced onto the streets of Albany or surrounding municipalities.
The internment trailers have incredibly restrictive rules which would subject participants to prison-like regimentation. The trailers open each day at 5:30p.m. and participants must be inside by 8p.m., after which they are not permitted to step outside the trailers. Participants must then be out by 8:30a.m., without access to the facilities throughout the day. Staff members can require that participants take showers in the facility during the one hour per day the facility showers are open.
The rules also prohibit sexual interaction between participants and require gender separation, even for intimate partners who currently live together on the Bulb. One such couple has been together for 32 years.
Bulb residents have two trained Service Dogs (PSDs), and twenty-five Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), which are pets that provide needed therapeutic benefit to their owners. There are a total of four kennels for dogs of shelter participants, which is insufficient for the twenty dogs Bulb residents own. There are no accommodations for cats, effectively excluding the seven ESAs which are cats, and their owners.
The organization running Albany’s internment trailers, ironically named “Operation Dignity”, stands firm on its position that the accommodations that have been requested by disabled Bulb residents cannot be made.
The trailers have been established for the purposes of internment, not shelter. The City has opted to escalate police harassment against Bulb residents to punish those who choose to continue living in their homes in order to force people into the trailers, rather than working together with Bulb residents to find a mutually agreeable alternative.
It is not at all surprising that no Bulb residents have stayed in the trailers since they opened — to the extremely self-sufficient Bulb residents who have put years of work into building their own residences – which offer privacy, autonomy, and dignity – these group internment trailers are an insult rather than a real alternative.
Share the Bulb calls on the City of Albany to immediately halt its eviction plans, and work with Bulb residents and the broader community in any future plans for the Bulb. Through this path, all interested and affected parties can move forward with constructive purpose.