Rainbow Village, Berkeley Haven for the Homeless, Forced to Close
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ Vagabonds who had set up housekeeping in their cars and buses on a waterfront lot a year ago were evicted Monday because the city plans to use the landfill area as a park.
″It’s criminal to be alive in this city and be poor,″ said Radical Rob as he and about 30 other people were evicted from the area dubbed ″Rainbow Village″ that had been set aside 13 months ago as a temporary home for drifters and their vehicles.
″I don’t like it at all,″ said Rob, who like most of his neighbors declined to give his last name. ″I know the city could do better. I know the state could do better.″
Under an agreement between the city, the state Lands Commission and nearby Marriott Inn, the landfill area will be used for a park, said Berkeley spokesman David Poock. If it isn’t, he said, the city could lose $760,000 in state and federal funding that had been designated for park development.
″It’s not good for the people out here. I wish we could have come up with a better solution,″ Poock said.
The village has been open since January 1985 and only people who paid $30 a month could live there legally. Poock said the residents must leave immediately, but may leave their cars and buses for up to a month.
Poock said he had been trying to find homes for the residents, but that many preferred to live in their vehicles.
″Everybody’s got to be someplace,″ said Doc Stanley, who has issued a call for all ″Bag Ladies″ to attend a May 1 demonstration at the Marina to protest the plight of the homeless.
″The universal declaration of human rights grants me the right to residence,″ he said, sitting in his 1969 green Pontiac. ″It’s the property class of America that says, ‘Not here.’ It’s just wrong.″
Stanley said the residents had lived together peacefully.
″Are there drunks? Yes. Are they rowdy? Yes. Do you have to do anything about it? No,″ he said.
The village is nestled between the Marina and a dump. A white clapboard sign that reads ″Rainbow Village″ lies at the foot of a quarter-mile-long dirt road that leads to the 80-by-100-foot lot.
Outside the fence sits the shell of a motor boat with the village’s address - 2001 Rainbow Village Junction - written on its side and a large white bus with a sign that reads, ″Send a Bag Lady to Berkeley for May Day.″
There are several recycling bins for glass, aluminum and tin as well as a 15-foot-square garden protected by picket fence painted in bright red, blue, green and purple. Four outhouses sit beside a faucet that provides clean water for the 24 buses, trucks and cars.
One black and purple bus is decorated with stained-glass windows while a silver bus has a ″sculpture″ on its hood made with toys, toothpaste tubes, a guitar and an American flag.
A resident named Mousy said he served as the village postmaster and fought to get an official address so residents would be eligible for food stamps and other forms of state and federal assistance.
″I’ll be back on the street again,″ he said. ″It’s the only thing I can do for now.″