The encampment, made up of two long lines of RVs, trucks and trailers stretching for nearly two miles, is located near U.S. Route 101 in northern Marin County. (Related: More people are rapidly leaving crime-ridden, high-cost cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago.)
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that there has always been a small homeless population encamped in their RVs and other vehicles alongside Binford Road on the outskirts of the small city of Novato in Marin, right next to Route 101.
But the number of people making the roads their own ballooned dramatically in recent years to around 135 vehicles now, fueled by acute housing insecurity and loss of income caused by the economic restrictions imposed during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
State and local authorities are providing a variety of free and low-cost services to the dozens of campers along Binford Road. These services are paid for by $1 million in taxpayer funds – $500,000 from the state and $500,000 from Marin County – awarded to cities lining Binford Road and Route 101 and they are meant to address encampment issues.
The services include free groceries, helping campers clear their criminal records and housing case management services like applications for housing assistance or free state housing.
The homeless are also provided with a variety of free medical services, like blood tests, hepatitis testing, prescription refills, physical examinations and even access to sterile syringes for the drug addicts among the homeless population.
These services are provided at least once a month by organizations paid with taxpayer dollars to come out for a service fair.
Social service officials note that even with all of this support, the camp residents who are well enough to work full-time still can't afford the skyrocketing costs of living in Marin County, where census figures show the median household income to be about $131,000.
Gary Naja-Riese, director of homelessness in the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, noted that the county is working full-time to clear out the encampments by providing people with assisted housing. He added that the county is able to get an average of a dozen people into housing a month, primarily through landlord partnership programs at Marin Housing Authority.
Naja-Riese added that research has shown that nearly 80 percent of the people in Marin County who are homeless used to have residences in the area before becoming displaced.
"These are our neighbors … who through a multitude of experiences have lost their housing," said Naja-Riese. "Sometimes I think folks aren't always aware of how local the issue really is."
Homes in Novato cost a median price of $1.3 million, and Marin County calls itself the home of notable celebrities like George Lucas, Robin Williams and Tony Bennett. Other locals are concerned that the services being provided to these homeless people encourage them to continue encamping in the area.
"I can't park on a city street. Why are they letting them do that?" said Kathy, who has lived in Novato for over 40 years. "It appears to us this is just the easy way out – and California is making it really easy for them and very hard on us, the people who live here."
Karen, a 78-year-old longtime resident of Novato, said she disagrees with the RV campers' takeover of public property "at no cost to them, as far as I know."
"I don't want [Novato] to be another San Francisco," she said. "We won't go to San Francisco anymore."
Read more about the rapidly deteriorating state of California at CaliforniaCollapse.news.
Watch this clip from "The Bottom Line with Dagen & Duffy" on Fox Business as hosts Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy discuss San Francisco's economic collapse due to rampant crime.