UNHOUSED PEOPLE & ENCAMPMENTS
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. HOW MANY UNHOUSED PEOPLE ARE IN UNION CITY?
A: Union City has an estimated 489 unhoused individuals.
Q: WHO CAN I CALL WITH AN INQUIRY OR COMPLAINT REGARDING ENCAMPMENTS ESTABLISHED BY PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS?
A: Generally, within Union City, inquiries or complaints regarding an encampment occupied by persons experiencing homelessness should be directed to (510) 675-5482. Such encampments include those located on City-owned property, including parks. Individuals in need of services, including, but not limited to, shelter support or COVID-19 resources, should direct requests to 211.
Reports of criminal activity (which does not include the act of camping on public property) should be directed to the Union City Police Department at (510) 471-1365, press option #3. Reports of an emergency should be directed to 911.
- Inquiries or complaints regarding encampments located on California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) property should be directed to CalTrans customer service: https://csr.dot.ca.gov/ or by calling (510) 681-1113.
- Inquiries or complaints regarding encampments located on Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) property should be directed to UPRR at 1-888-UPRR-COP (877-7267).
Q. WHY HASN’T UNION CITY POLICE ARRESTED THE PEOPLE THAT ARE CAMPING? WHY HASN’T THE ENCAMPMENT BEEN REMOVED OR RELOCATED?
A: In general terms, under federal law, cities may not criminalize the act of sitting, sleeping, or lying on all public property when no alternative sleeping space is available. Thus, with limited exceptions, a person experiencing homelessness may not be arrested for camping on public property unless unrestricted shelter is available. Federal law also restricts the removal of life necessities from persons experiencing homelessness.
The City may remove or relocate encampments that adversely impact critical infrastructure, such as levees, or that pose a public safety hazard, such as those completely obstructing public rights-of-way.
Once an inquiry or complaint has been received, the City will determine whether, under the laws and orders discussed above, any action can be taken and by whom. If the City determines that action can be taken, the appropriate personnel will respond consistent with best practices. Absent criminal activity, Union City police officers will not be among the City personnel to respond. When City staff respond for non-criminal matters, Union City police officers will accompany them only when necessary to provide safety to those involved.
Q: CAN PERSONS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS START A FIRE TO COOK FOOD OR STAY WARM?
A: In general terms, state and local law prohibits starting a fire in an undesignated area of a public park, on a public street or sidewalk, and anywhere else in a reckless manner. Fires should be reported to 911.
Q: I SEE A PERSON EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS USING DRUGS OR DRINKING IN PUBLIC. WHAT CAN BE DONE?
A: The possession and use of narcotics, and the consumption of alcohol, in public, are unlawful and should be reported to the Union City Police Department at (510) 471-1365, press option #1. Reports of an emergency should be directed to 911.
Q: A PERSON EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS IS CAMPING ON MY PRIVATE PROPERTY. CAN I HAVE THAT PERSON REMOVED?
A: Yes. In general terms, a person entering or remaining upon your private property is trespassing in violation of state and local law. Reports of someone trespassing on your property and refusing to leave should be directed to the Union City Police Department at (510) 471-1365, press option #1. Reports of an emergency should be directed to 911.
Q: A PERSON EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS WAS TRESPASSING ON MY PRIVATE PROPERTY AND LEFT TRASH BEHIND. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REMOVING THE TRASH?
A: Owners of private property are responsible for maintaining their property free of junk and debris. Property owners must arrange for trash removal and secure their properties from trespassers.
Q: SHOULD I PROVIDE FOOD, CLOTHING, OR MONEY TO AN UNHOUSED PERSON ON THE STREETS?
A: The City’s non-profit partners offer food, clothing, housing and other supportive services. Therefore, those wishing to receive services also receive support from these organization.If you wish to help, you may consider donating to the nonprofit organizations working within the City or region.
Q: WHAT IS THE CITY DOING TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS?
A: The City operates the CAREavan program that provides safe parking for people that are living in their vehicles. This program is paid for with local funds and grants from the State of California.
The City also works with Alameda County's Coordinated Entry System to help provide access to residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by connecting to the 211 system. You can reach 211 by calling 211 or using the link to the County’s Coordinated Entry System: http://211alamedacounty.org/
Other social services that the City provides through its social service partners include homeless services, food/meal programs, mental health/counseling, housing, youth services, veterans’ services, general social services, and much more. Those services can be found on the City’s website: https://www.unioncity.org/234/Social-Services
Q: WHAT ELSE IS THE CITY DOING?
A: The City is hiring a homelessness coordinator and a homelessness outreach worker to provide a point of contact for all homelessness concerns. This is being paid for by a grant from the State of California. The primary role of these positions will be to provide support services to our existing CAREavan program and outreach to other unhoused people in the community and get them into housing and other services.