SUPPORT NEEDED: Housing & Dignity Village Slated for Eviction TOMORROW, Dec. 5th!

“Nowhere Else to Go”: Housing and Dignity Village Encampment & Service Center Led by Unhoused Women of Color Faces Eviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Oakland, CA – The City of Oakland has posted an eviction notice at Housing and Dignity Village (HDV), an encampment that shelters 13 unhoused Oakland residents of color in deep East Oakland. The encampment has also provided an array of services to more than 200 housed and unhoused residents of the Brookfield neighborhood.

The eviction is scheduled to occur on Wednesday, December 5th at 7:30 a.m., at South Elmhurst Avenue and Edes Avenue. Housed and unhoused supporters from all over Oakland will be standing in solidarity with HDV on Wednesday as they demand the City upgrade, not evict, the encampment.

Six HDV residents are currently plaintiffs in an ongoing civil rights lawsuit against the City of Oakland, and were recently denied a preliminary injunction against eviction. Their lawsuit, Miralle vs. City of Oakland, argues that the City’s practice of forced evictions violates their Eighth Amendment rights. They cite Martin vs. Boise, a recent ruling that unhoused people who are staying on public land when shelter is unavailable should not be criminalized. In his denial of the preliminary injunction, the presiding judge Hon. Haywood Gilliam, Jr. accepted the City’s false claims that HDV residents were offered shelter but refused, and that the City does not criminalize unhoused people for being on public land, overlooking dozens of sworn testimonies by unhoused Oakland residents.

“The shelter offered by the City is absolutely inadequate,” said HDV resident and leader Yana Johnson. “In Oakland, there are 460 shelter beds total available for over 9,000 unsheltered people on any given night. These 460 shelter beds do not serve women with children, people with pets, or any working person who has night shifts. Under this criteria, a majority of residents of HDV are totally excluded from shelters, which are often only available for one night.”

Six plaintiffs and seven residents, accompanied by legal observers, will document where exactly the city plans on “housing” them for the still-ongoing civil rights lawsuit.

Residents and plaintiffs also cite a new civil rights violation through this eviction: a silencing of the well-organized camp’s First Amendment rights.

“We are getting shut down because we are outspoken advocates,” said Needa Bee, a primary plaintiff in Miralle and founder of The Village. “This is a political decision to silence residents, who are advocates not just for themselves but for all unhoused people in Oakland. We are being targeted by City officials for our political engagement. (This is) not a health and safety decision. Meanwhile encampments throughout Oakland are in crisis – neglected and ignored.”

Advocates for HDV are calling on supporters to contact Mayor Libby Schaaf, Assistant to City Administrator Joe DeVries, and Council Member At-Large Rebecca Kaplan, via phone and email to stop this unjustifiable, cruel and unusual eviction. Supporters should ask the City to instead follow the recommendations put forth by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, for local governments to upgrade and support, rather than criminalize and evict encampments:

Attempting to discourage residents from remaining in informal settlements or encampments by denying access to water, sanitation and health services and other basic necessities, as has been witnessed by the Special Rapporteur in San Francisco and Oakland, California, United States of America, constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment and is a violation of multiple human rights, including the rights to life, housing, health and water and sanitation. [Para 46, emph. added]

Libby Schaff – Mayor – (510) 238-3141 – LSchaaf@oaklandnet.com / Officeofthemayor@oaklandnet.com

Joe deVries  –  Assistant to the City Administrator – (510) 238-3083 – JDeVries@oaklandca.gov

Rebecca Kaplan –   Council Rep. at Large – (510) 238-7008 – Atlarge@oaklandnet.com

Press contact:

Candice Elder, Founder and Executive Director, The East Oakland Collective

(510) 990-0775

candice@eastoaklandcollective.com

NEW VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/304196572

For photos and videos, see https://thevillageinoakland.org/photo-video-gallery/

About The Village:

The Village began as a grassroots movement in December of 2016, creating autonomous encampments on public and private land in Oakland, and providing the basic needs and rights of housing, food, provisions, healing, and dignity to those who have been displaced by gentrification . A diversity of tactics is necessary to reach our goals in the current political, economic and historic moment: . direct action and policy reform; adverse possession and purchasing lands; reparations and self-determination; services for the unsheltered and self-governance of the unsheltered. Learn more at https://thevillageinoakland.org.   

About The East Oakland Collective:   

The East Oakland Collective (EOC) is a member-based community organizing group invested in serving the communities of deep East Oakland by working towards racial and economic equity. With programming in civic engagement and leadership, economic empowerment and homeless services and solutions, we help amplify underserved communities from the ground up. We are committed to driving impact in the landscape, politics and economic climate of deep East Oakland. ​Learn more at http://www.eastoaklandcollective.com.

United Nations Visit To Oakland Homeless Encampments

Press Conference

For Immediate Release

Bay Area Curbside Communities Respond To UN Special Report On Homelessness Naming Oakland, San Francisco As Human Rights Violators

When and Where:

Tuesday, October 23rd

1112

Oakland City Hall Amphitheater

Frank Ogawa Plaza

On October 19th, the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Right to Adequate Housing, Lelani Farha, released her new report documenting the “global scandal” of homeless encampments. In January of 2017, Farha spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California to meet with unhoused residents and housed advocates and described the conditions as “cruel and inhumane”. The only U.S. cities explicitly called out for violations in the UN’s report on global homelessness are San Francisco and Oakland.

She states that while the existence of “informal settlements” are human rights violations due to local government’s lack of will to provide permanent housing to all residents, these encampments are also people’s assertion to their denied human right of housing. She declares curbside communities are acts of resilience, resourcefulness and ingenuity in the face of dire circumstances. Rather than criminalize or ignore these settlements, until permanent housing can be offered to all, it is the duty of local governments not to evict curbside communities but to upgrade them and residents of these encampments should participate in all areas of the upgrading, including sanitation, clean water, food services and support services.

Homeless leaders and advocates in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland hosted Ms. Farha, including Coalition on Homelessness, Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), The East Oakland Collective, The Village/Feed The People, and First They Came For The Homeless. Ms. Farha was able to hear and speak directly with people living in encampments and on our streets about the oppression, hatred and police violence they experience everyday. Representatives from these organizations, curbside leaders who are survivors of continued human rights abuses at the hands of government agencies, as well as legal advocates from Ella Baker Center For Human Rights and the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute will be speaking a Tuesday’s Press Conference.

In Ms. Farha’s report she frames the encampments and street dwelling in the United States under the same vein as the informal settlements around the world. Finding that “the scope and severity of the living conditions in informal settlements make this one of the most pervasive violations of human rights globally,” states the report. The Oakland conditions of discrimination and harassment of encampment residents and punitive denials of access to basic services constitute “cruel and inhuman treatment and is a violation of multiple human rights…Such punitive policies must be prohibited in law and immediately ceased.”

This assertion falls in line with the 9th Circuit Courts Sept 4th decision that criminalization of homelessness violates curbside communities’ 8th amendment rights and constitutes as cruel and unusual punishment.

“The Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing As a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and on the Right to Non-Discrimination in this Context” is being presented at the United Nation’s office in New York on October 19th. In solidarity with this presentation at the UN, events are planned in New York City; Denver, Colorado, and Oakland, CA October 23.

Writing in support of WRAPs Right to Rest acts in California, Colorado, and Oregon, the Rapporteur summed up her visit in California:

“In my capacity as the UN Rapporteur on Housing, I visited California and saw firsthand the human right violations being experienced by people who are homeless. They are the victims of failed policies—not the perpetrators of crime. The state of California must take action to remedy the criminalization of rest…While I toured encampments and drop-in facilities serving homeless people, the community repeatedly expressed that they simply wanted to be treated as human beings. It is dehumanizing, demoralizing, and unjust to criminalize hundreds of thousands of people due to their housing status.”

The report concludes with step by step recommendations to enhance the lives of over 800 million people around the world who live in informal settlements and inhumane conditions concluding:

“That truth is that by any measure — moral, political or legal — it is unacceptable for people to be forced to live this way. Refusing to accept the unacceptable is where we must begin. All actors must mobilize within a shared human rights paradigm around the imperative of upgrading all informal settlements by 2030.”

The UN Press release on the report can be found here: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23737&LangID=E

The report can be found here:

Legal Research

Bay Area PRESS CONTACTS:

Paul Boden, Executive Director, Western Regional Advocacy Project

415-621-2533 pboden@wraphome.org

Candice Elder, Executive Director, The East Oakland Collective

510.326.2486, Candice@eastoaklandcollective.com

Needa Bee, Founder & Lead Organizer, The Village; Program Director Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute

510-355-7010, maowunyo@gmail.com

Mike Zint, First They Came For The Homeless

mzint04@gmail.com

City Council to Vote on Oakland Shelter Crisis Ordinance

Oakland City Council To Reinstate An Expanded Shelter Crisis Ordinance Addressing The Homeless State of Emergency
“The Village” Immediate Solution Model Protected Under Ordinance, City Owned Lands Potentially In The Future of The Community Led Response

Oakland, CA – At 5pm on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 Oakland City Council will deliberate whether or not to reinstate a second California Shelter Crisis Ordinance. The ordinance declares that restrictions around housing codes will be lifted. “The provisions of any state or local regulatory statute, regulation or ordinance prescribing standards of housing, health or safety shall be suspended to the extent that strict compliance would in anyway prevent, hinder or delay the mitigation of the efforts of the shelter crisis,” the California ordinance states.

In other words, housing that would otherwise be deemed illegal like tents and non-code compliant shelters would be allowed in designated sites to alleviate the homeless state of emergency. If passed this modified ordinance will also include private as well as public lands. And the declaration will be sanctioned for the maximum time of two years.

In December 2015 the City Council declared a shelter crisis for January 2016-2017. However the declaration was not backed up with a plan or funding and nothing happened to address the state of emergency. In fact the crisis worsened.

On January 20, 2017 a group of Oakland residents – both housed and unhoused – reclaimed Marcus Garvey Park on Martin Luther King Jr. and 36th to build homes and services for Oakland’s unhoused residents. The direct action was called The Village, and the organizers stood on a moral compass as well as several laws, including the shelter crisis ordinance, to proclaim their unorthodox method necessary and legal.

When the city spent $75,000 to bulldoze the highly successful solution thirteen days later, scores of Village members and supporters marched to city hall to protest the administration’s inhumane, ineffective and violent response to the community driven solution.

From that city hall protest, the Homeless Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) was created made of several members and supporters of The Village. For the past 7 months HAWG has been pressuring the administration and city council to adopt several solutions including full sanitation services at all encampments; the building of a second Henry J Robinson Center, the end to human rights and constitutional rights violations, the reinstatement of the shelter crisis declaration with funding and plans to back it up, and the acceptance and support of autonomous community driven solutions like The Village.

“It’s been a long, slow, uphill battle – not the urgency you would expect from government officials in a state of emergency,” said Village co-founder and lead organizer Bobby Qui. “But we hope over the next several weeks to see moves within City Hall that will ensure a significant number of Oakland’s homeless residents will be able to have access to the basic human right of housing in an otherwise unaccessible gentrified housing market.”

Currently HAWG is lobbying to get the city to give The Village public parcels to build housing and services immediately for Oakland’s homeless. On September 26th the Life Enrichment Committee will hear a report from the City Administrator’s office about The Village model and the administrator’s “Safe Haven” . The “Safe Haven” proposal is nothing short of The Village model modified with bureaucracy that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

“We are happy that the City was so inspired by our model, but their slow and money driven process will not adequately address this crisis. We believe that the City should move forward with their institutionalized version of The Village, but we also think that in the spirit and intent of the ordinance they need to embrace all solutions that come to forward. Especially no cost/low cost, community funded and led solutions,” said Village co-founder and lead organizer Needa Bee.

Bee said the administration has expressed that there is a liability issue with allowing The Village to operate as well as questioned the ability of The Village to succeed.

‘Under the Shelter Crisis Ordinance liability is suspended until the crisis is over. The city is suggesting that The Village does not have the professional experience to maintain this solution. These appear to be excuses to not work with the people of Oakland who have provided the city with an effective model,” Bee said. “They are ignoring The Village leadership comes from the homeless non-profit sector, are homeless advocates, are grassroots organizers and nonprofit leaders, are formally and currently homeless, or former drug addicts. And not only do we have vast experience and aptitude within our organization, but we have hella heart and a deep commitment to prioritizing the victims of the city’s agenda of gentrification.”

ABOUT HAWG (Homeless Advocacy Working Group) –
The mission of the Homeless Advocacy Working Group is to assist in ending the disgrace of human beings sleeping on the street, in vehicles, in the open, and in unsafe shelters, and to insist, unconditionally, that “Housing is a Human Right.” The Working Group demands that all persons, irrespective of their housing or economic status, must be provided with decent shelter they can afford and, at all times, must be treated with the utmost of courtesy, dignity, and respect.

ABOUT THE VILLAGE

The Village is a network of people housed and unhoused; born and raised here and just got here, that seeks to manifest immediate solutions to Oakland’s housing crisis thru a comprehensive, diverse and multifaceted humane approach that puts the voices, needs and solutions of Oakland’s displaced front and center. We seek to build homes and services for Oakland’s unhoused, and provide support on the path towards self-sufficiency.

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For press images and video, please contact Needa Bee at (510) 355-7010 or feedthepeopleoakland@gmail.com

Or visit our Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/The-Village-in-Oakland-feedthepeople-731643677003021/

9th Circuit Court States Criminalizing Homeless Is Unconstitutional

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Right of Unsheltered to Not Be Criminalized for Sleeping in Public When There Have No Alternatives For Housing

(September 4, 2018, Boise, Idaho) – This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed what The Village has been asserting all along: that unsheltered persons punished for sleeping outside in the absence of adequate alternatives are victims of cruel and unusual punishment. In Martin v. Boise (formerly Bell v. Boise) – a lawsuit challenging Boise, Idaho’s ban on sleeping in public – the court of appeals sided with unsheltered individuals who have been criminalized under Boise’s policy. The courts agreed the unsheltered residents had their 8th Amendment constitutional rights violated by the City.

The Ninth Circuit held that the United States Constitution ‘prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter.’ This decision impacts California, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam & Mariana Islands.

Two years ago, the Department of Justice recognized in this case, “[c]riminalizing public sleeping in cities with insufficient housing and support for homeless individuals does not improve public safety outcomes or reduce the factors that contribute to homelessness.”

The Village has asserted this interpretation of constitutional law for the past two years as The City of Oakland’s Administration repeatedly shuffles, moves, closes down and evicts dozens of encampments in Oakland.

“Not only is this practice and policy a violation of constitutional law and human rights law, its absolutely inhumane and ineffective,” said The Village co-founder and lead organizer Needa Bee. “Some of our unsheltered neighbors have been unconscionably evicted three or four times in this past year since the City of Oakland adopted this practice one year ago almost to the day. How appropriate to mark the Oakland Administration’s one year anniversary of their first eviction – by having the Ninth Circuit declaring it is a constitutional violation.”

Homeless advocates hope the court’s decision, will force bureaucrats to redirect resources towards meaningful and constitutional solutions to the problem of homelessness.

“The current Tuff Shed Camps are not the answer. Not only are we documenting numerous human rights violations, but the process in which they are created are in direct violation of the Court’s ruling,” said Steven Di Caprio Executive Director of Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute. “The city chose to create their Tuff Shed sites in two of the largest encampments in West Oakland – both with more than 100 residents. Yet the Tuff Sheds only temporarily house 40 people. The other 60 plus residents had their 8th Amendment constitutional rights violated when they were forced to move.”

Di Caprio, Bee and other homeless advocates and unsheltered residents have referred to the Tuff Shed sites “prison camps,” “torture camps,” or “concentration camps.” Many assert that more than the 8th Amendment is violated at the Tuff Shed sites.

“The Tuff Shed Prison Camps also violate the 4th amendment illegal search & seizure and right of privacy, the 5th Amendment right to due process, the 14th amendment right to due process and equal protection, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant Against Torture and All Forms of Cruel and Unusual Punishment,: Di Caprio said. “You can’t throw someone in a prison camp and say this is housing.”

Currently the Administration is planning to create a new Tuff Shed site in the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium Parking Lot to house 40 people that live around Lake Merritt. To date at least 150 people live in tents or handmade structures around Lake Merritt. The City plans on beginning to evict these unhoused residents in the next week. When the City shut down the encampments surrounding the Brush Street and Northgate Tuff Shed sites, several of the residents went to The Village seeking sanctuary.

“We already were beyond capacity with the six encampments the Administration herded onto the land. But we did not turn anyone away. Because were else will they go? Will Libby’s Administration continue her legacy of violating the human rights and constitutional rights of Oakland’s most vulnerable residents?” asked Bobby Qui Building Lead & Organizer for The Village. “We hope not. What really needs to happen is The City needs to stop selling public property for market and above market rate development and start building housing that those of us who have been gentrified can afford. Getting unsheltered people into housing is a win-win approach. It benefits those without shelter and the communities that are impacted by neighbors living in public spaces. And it costs so much less than criminalizing the unsheltered.”through the criminal justice system.”

In March 2018 The Village learned they would be evicted from the land the City offered them months before for a scheduled CalTrans bridge retrofit. CalTrans was unaware that the Administration had offered The Village the parcel or that six encampments had been herded onto the land. The Village continues to demand land that Oakland City Council instructed the Administration to lease the grassroots movement. Eviction on The Village and retrofitting process is scheduled for November 2018. The City Hall rumor mill has told Bee that the City will charge The Village for trespassing and allow CalTrans to bulldoze the shelter and facilities they have built.

“Let’s see if we get the land to move on, or if the City Administration gets a lawsuit,” Bee said. “The Ninth Circuit has declared as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize curbside communities for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter. Where will the residents at e12th & 23rd go in November? Where will the 150 unsheltered residents around the Lake go when they are evicted?”

Contact: Needa Bee

510-355-7010

maowunyo@gmail.com

Two Leaders & Residents From The Village Facing Trial After Self-Defense Grassroots Efforts to House the Homeless Under Constant Attack

After a year of consistent undermining of their efforts to decriminalize homelessness and spark a movement to create humane and dignified solutions to the housing and homeless crisis in Oakland, two leaders and residents of the The Village are now facing criminal charges for defending themselves and the encampment they live in under conditions created by the City Administration. Their trial starts this Friday March 16.

PRE-TRIAL PRESS CONFERENCE FOR “THE VILLAGE 2”

Friday, March 16

8am

In front of Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse

661 Washington St.

Oakland Ca 94607

The Village is a grassroots effort that organizes housed and unhoused residents of Oakland to provide temporary emergency shelter and support services to Oakland’s homeless as a pathway towards permanent housing. The movement made headlines in January 2017 when they successfully liberated unused public lands to manifest their vision. They were bulldozed by the City Administration to tune of $75,000.

Since then, the movement has established itself as a powerful lobbying and organizing body responsible for winning over Oakland City Council to declare a shelter crisis declaration, legalize and protect the efforts of The Village and force the Mayor and her Administration to work with the group and grant them city owned or managed land to continue their mission.

But their victory has been continually undermined.

“The latest violation of our most vulnerable citizens by authorities occurred when two homeless leaders of The Village were forced to defend themselves and the encampment from an attack by a known predator,” reads a statement signed by more than two dozen social justice, faith based and business organizations.

Jodie Everett is part of The Village leadership and resident who intervened when his fellow Village leader and resident Mouangjoi Tracy Saelee Edmond attempted to defend herself from being assaulted with a nail-riddled two by four. The Village believes that not only are the two defendants victims, but the person they were defending themselves and the encampment from is also a victim of the system. According to volunteers and residents, the alleged victim is in desperate need of mental health services and housing.

“There is a compassionate way to deal with our unsheltered residents, but prosecuting them in our criminal justice system is not it. We need to show empathy and make sure they all get homes, medical services, mental health services, safety and protection. We do not need to pit them against each other,” reads the statement. “The issue we need to address is institutional. It is not about the two leaders who defended themselves and the encampment. It is not about the person who attacked Tracy. This should have never happened in the first place. They are all victims of an avaricious system.”

The Village and its supporters are demanding all charges dropped due to consistently ineffective and inhumane homeless policies and police misconduct and mistreatment of the unhoused. The Village and supporters assert that these two leaders had to defend themselves in that moment and monies spent on criminal injustices rather than services to our city’s most vulnerable is unconscionable.

And now, scheduled for November 2018, the City plans to take away the land it granted The Village five months ago to repair an overpass. The 80 people the City herded will now be forcibly displaced to rebuild the overpass that spans across the parcel. The Village is currently negotiating with City Administration for four new parcels to house all 80 residents at the current location on E. 12th Street and 23rd ave. As well as the original 16 residents who were bulldozed by the city last year. Of the 16 residents, 14 are homeless and 2 have died in the streets.

Press Contact: Kasey Brenner

kaseybrenner@gmail.com

(510) 290-6273

The Raid – Press Statement

Mayor And City Administrator Bulldoze Homes & Village of Services for Oakland’s Homeless Residents

Hundreds of Oakland Residents Created An Encampment That Offered Safe & Dignified Space City of Oakland Did Not Provide

Oakland, CA – At 8:30 AM on the morning of Thursday, February 2, 2017, at least 80 Oakland Police violently raided a village of homes and services for Oakland’s homeless residents which was then bulldozed by the Department of Public Works. The inhumane action went against the wishes of hundreds of Oakland residents who contributed to the creation of the sanctuary at 36th and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, named “The Promise Land” by residents. Sixteen residents, half of them elderly, were displaced. An additional four guests who were seeking sanctuary for the night were also rudely awakened. Two of the evening guests who slept in The Promised Land open air living room, sought refuge because Cal Trans had destroyed their two encampments down the street.

Since early morning on Saturday, January 21, a network of Oakland community members took over Marcus Garvey Park, a public plot of neglected land at 36th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in West Oakland, and had moved in small homes, a healing clinic, and other services, declaring it a people’s encampment for those who needed housing and basic needs and services. The group – which included folks living on Oakland streets, activists from #FeedthePeople and #Asians4BlackLives, The Black Land Liberation Initiative and various individuals from the community – said that the move-in demonstrated their ability to provide what the City of Oakland cannot to its most vulnerable residents.

Although the camp had grown extraordinarily quickly and shown incredible success in reducing harm for Oakland’s unhoused community in such a short time, it was cited for 18 code violations. According to City Hall insiders, both the mayor and the city administrator were motivated by bruised egos as justification for demolishing the widely-supported encampment.

“The City has proven how petty and ineffective they are. The crisis is our permit. Our code is humanity. Our regulations are immediate, healthy solutions that address the urgency of this housing crisis,” said Promise Land founder Needa Bee who is with both #FeedThePeople and Asians4BlackLives. “There are zero codes to follow and zero permits needed to build a tiny home. What they did was cruel and unusual punishment and the people who they hurt the most were the residents. The residents who were still asleep at the time of the raid were all elderly. The sixteen residents of the village have been needlessly traumatized and distressed by the Mayor and City Administrator. I am absolutely disgusted, but not surprised. Oakland has once again proved it isn’t a sanctuary city, nor does it show compassion to those most vulnerable and in need.”

The group aimed to demonstrate through their visionary encampment that housing is a human right. They also hoped to demonstrate that, in the face of a city government that failed to meet the needs of its people, it is possible for the community to unite to serve serve Oakland’s homeless residents in a dignified and humane manner. The group criticizes the inaction of the City of Oakland, saying that the City has proven to be disloyal to its long term families displaced in this city-initiated housing crisis. The group also claims that the City has not implemented sufficient efforts to address homelessness, such as building permanent public housing for those who have been displaced by the housing crisis, particularly Black and Brown residents.

“What #FeedthePeople offered us is a better situation than what the City has offered us,” said Red,one of the several senior citizens who was housed at The Village. “#FeedthePeople seems to get things rolling. They had a place for us to go to that was safe, dignified, and had services for us all. It’s hard to believe that the city actually bulldozed homes for homeless people in the middle of a housing crisis.”

As for the $20 million surprise bond city hall approved for building homes for the homeless the day before The Promise Land was raided, organizers understand that it was the power and effectiveness of their harm reduction based direct action and the movement that grew out of it that got the city to finally develop for those most negatively impacted by gentrification. For years activists and Oakland residents demanded the city to build homes for low income residents in the midst of this housing crisis, and the consistent response from the city was there was not enough money to do so.

“We are very clear that our unappologetic, bold and beautiful action pushed the city to finally do something they chose not to do for decades. As they say – direct action gets the goods. It appears the community wants to solve this question with its own effective solutions. The City should listen to the people of Oakland instead of bulldozer over them,” said Promised Land volunteer Ellen Choy of Asians For Black Lives. “But we know all too well the city is known for making promises it does not keep and those homes won’t be built for years. So despite the hostility we are receiving from the mayor and the city administrator, we intend to hold them accountable to their promise, and in the meantime keep building temporary homes for those who need them until those homes the city is promising are built.”

And the community’s solution was so effective homeless encampments around Oakland were referring to The Village as “The Promise Land”, which led to the name change.

“We call the encampment The Promise Land because every promise they made to us they came through on,” said Crystal, another resident of the village. “The city has made promises to us and has broken them all. They promised people at the city-sanctioned encampment on Magnolia permanent housing but instead gave temporary hotel vouchers to a chosen few that last four to six months. When that voucher is up, they are back to square one.”

The group began moving into Marcus Garvey Park before dawn on January 21, 2017 and set up the village of services. The center of the village, people on the land said, became a community space reserved for regular people’s assemblies, and provided services to the residents and the greater Oakland community. Volunteers and residents offered hot home cooked meals, edible container gardens, and a provisions distribution program for Oakland residents in need. The village was open to all who need services provided whether you live at the site or not. And no registration is needed.

“The city claims that neighbors complained they no longer had access to the park, but we never blocked anyone access to the park. We locked the gates of the park from dusk til dawn to protect the land and the people, but our private nightly security team let neighbors in to walk their dogs, and even offered neighbors keys to locked gates if they wanted to walk their dogs in the middle of the night,” said security coordinator Douglas Faatiligia. “We circulated a petition in the neighborhood in support of The Village over a four hour period and collected hundreds of signatures. And many neighbors came to volunteer and donated supplies. The interests of hundreds of neighbors and greater Oakland residents who supported the Promise Land were silenced over the irrational fear of homeless people a dozen or so recently arrived residents expressed to the city.”

The village was narcotics and alcohol free, and begins with prioritizing housing for Black and Brown folks, families, women, elders, and disabled folks. Two residents actually came to the camp seeking support in kicking decades old drug addictions. Both residents managed to stay clean and sober beginning the day they moved in. The city’s decision to destroy the village resulted in their journey to recovery being disrupted.

Organizers also hope that their version of what a compassionate community looks like inspires others to reclaim public land in other parts of Oakland, the Bay Area, and the country, to build similar havens of safety, service and community.

The encampment was never meant to be a permanent solution, but addressed the immediate needs and harm reduction of some of the City of Oakland’s more than 3,050 homeless residents. Oakland’s homeless population makes up 49.2% of all of Alameda County’s houseless. Homeless numbers are growing, spokespeople said, as a direct outcome of the city’s housing affordability crisis. The housing market in Oakland has skyrocketed, and a vast majority of landlords no longer accept Section 8 vouchers. Many of Oakland’s homeless residents have vouchers for Section 8 housing, but cannot find a rental agency that will accept the public housing program. Currently there are only 386 beds available in Oakland shelters. The day the city raided The Promise Land the shelter were all full.

The City of Oakland’s “Compassionate Communities”effort that claims to be a pilot program has earmarked $190,000 of the City’s general budget funds for addressing homelessness. However, the program only allows trash pickup and porta-potties for a single sanctioned encampment for six months. New residents do not get registered for inclusion in the program and were told to leave when the camp footprint was recently halved by force in preparation for permanent closure of the encampment by March 31. The programs are not scalable, and only a select few benefit. An interim housing provision gives residents hotel vouchers that last no longer than 6 months, an unrealistic timeline for finding permanent housing, and the program includes no proposals for long-term subsidized housing. This is not a pilot program to address homelessness. This is an experiment in camp removal and suppression. After being criticized for the false claims of the program, the city responded that their phase two of the program is to create a permanent homeless encampment made up of tiny homes not tall enough for residents to stand up in.

“Housing is a right. Being without a home is not a crime. The politicians that created this crisis are the criminals. Yet folks without shelters have been ignored, harassed, shuffled around, degraded, and criminalized. The responses from city officials, CalTrans, and police has not only been ineffective, but degrading and even criminal,” said #FeedThePeople member Chiedza Kundidzora. “Institutions like CalTrans continually violate homeless communities’ constitutional rights with their protocol towards folks living under freeways. They seize and destroy people’s property without due process, and as a cruel and unusual punishment for circumstances that are treated as criminal. What the city did to The Village is the epitome towards their inhumane stance towards homeless residents” she said.

Activists and residents hoped to unite communities that face displacement, destruction, terror, poverty, and violence to stand together in the fight for housing for all, and promote self-determination in the face of an illegitimate government. Their hopes were manifested much greater than they expected. “We not only mobilized The Town, we also mobilized the New Oakland to stand with and support the people they displaced. This is a beginning of a movement. This is the beginning of a paradigm shift where people are realizing they have the vision and ability and power that that the city of oakland does not have,” Kundidzora said. “We started off as a network and in less than two weeks, we have become a movement. We aren’t going to stop. If anything the city’s display of inhumanity has galvanized more people to join us and clearly see the ineffectiveness and illegitimacy of City Hall.

ABOUT #FEED THE PEOPLE

#FeedthePeople, a collective of Oakland residents and activists, including some currently or formerly homeless, has been distributing food and supplies to homeless encampments in the East Bay for over a year. Every Wednesday, volunteers share hot home cooked meals, much needed supplies, hugs and support to people living on the street. They also provide advocacy and support to folks on the streets when they are harassed by police and politicians.

ABOUT #ASIANS4BLACKLIVES

#Asians4BlackLives, a diverse group of people of Asian descent based in the Bay Area, focuses on nonviolent direct action for Black liberation. The group originally came together over two years ago in response to a call from Black Lives Matter Bay Area and the larger Black Lives Matter movement, to show up in solidarity with Black people in their struggle for liberation. The group has been involved in direct actions to support campaigns ranging from #StopUrbanShield to #BlackTransLivesMatter to #NoDAPL and regularly supports calls from Black-led groups for solidarity statements and actions. a4bl.tumblr.com @Asians4BlkLives

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For press images and video, please contact Needa Bee at (510) 355-7010 or feedthepeopleoakland@gmail.com

Or visit our Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/The-Village-in-Oakland-feedthepeople-731643677003021/

Direct Action 2.0

Homeless Residents of Future Village Refuse to Wait For Basic Human Rights: Shelter, Water, Safety.

City Administration Created Unsafe Conditions on Land Offered To Grassroots Movement, Bureaucracy Slows Down Progress

Press Contact:

Needa Bee, Phone: (510) 355-7010

(February 3, 2018 – Oakland, CA) – In his recent letter of Feb. 1, Joe DeVries, Asst. to the City Administrator, threatens and pressures Village supporters and residents to stop building their self-governed, volunteer driven homeless village claiming a direly needed security perimeter under construction is “unauthorized”.

The City of Oakland sanctioned this parcel at 23rd Ave and E.12th St. to “The Village”, a self-organized group of homeless Oaklanders and supporters, with one hand while sweeping and herding other encampments onto the same parcel with the other. The ensuing overcrowding combined with arbitrary city restrictions on community initiatives has led to squalid conditions and dire safety issues. The Village residents and supporters continue to build shelter and security over this Volunteer Build weekend with or without the blessing of the city administrator’s office.

“Why are we still in tents? The city gave The Village the land in October. And a few days later Oakland Police Department and Public Works moved us and our belongings to this land on trucks and told us to build homes,” said homeless resident and Village Administrative Team Member, Tracy Lee. “This is public land. Who’s the public? We are. The people. The Village is here to help us and that’s what they are doing.”

INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE: homeless Oaklanders and village residents; supporters, builders and volunteers; spokespeople from partner organizations; and neighbors to the village.

VISUALS: residents and supporters planting, building, and breaking bread together all day; the colorful perimeter fence of repurposed doors going up around newly constructed shelters for the womens and elders camp. A community mural. Trash pick and land preperations.

BACKGROUND

After they offered The Village land, the Administration closed down six encampments throughout East Oakland and herded them onto the site at 23rd Ave and E12th under an overpass. Residents and surrounding neighborhood all agree the results have been disastrous.

The one acre plot of land was intended to be filled with 40 tiny homes, a health/wellness/recovery center, computer lab, art studio, gardens, sanitation services, case management and classrooms for a variety of life skills and trade skill courses. The intention is to get people off the ground, out of tents and into temporary sturdy shelters, while providing support and services to get Oakland’s most vulnerable on their feet, achieving their goals and transitioning into permanent housing. But the administration filled this narrow parcel between an overpass and E12th with nearly 70 residents with more moving in every day.

“It’s not our fault they we are getting shuffled around and having our human and civil rights violated. We are humans and we deserve and need housing and support. Trying to get a place to live in Oakland is impossible. I’ve never seen Oakland like this,” said Tracy Lee, raised in Oakland. “And what the administration has created by moving all of us onto this land is a disaster. We not fittin’ to have people sick, raped, robbed, beaten, harassed or in danger anymore.”

The Administration was notified of the dangerous health and safety circumstances in a letter sent January 16, 2018. In the letter, both The Village organizers and the Two Three Hunid Ohlone Village residents informed the Administration that despite the Village and Admin still being in negotiations around details in the agreement with the City, immediate action needed to take place.

“Folks have been here building for two, three months now. And they are going to keep building. The city knows two women are out here dying and they could have been housed. Then why are they not housed? If people don’t feel safe and are telling you they don’t feel safe and the plan is to build them homes, then do it already!” said resident and Village onsite peacekeeper Joddi Everett.

There was no movement from the city administration on the matter. In fact, the administration asked for proof that the violence, and health and safety violations were even happening. Councilmembers, neighbors, nearby businesses and organizations, and most of all, the residents of the encampment want immediate action to happen.

One year ago, housed and unhoused community members of The Village undertook a direct action to create a Promised Land to provide shelter, food, first aid and other resources to Oakland’s homeless population, who the group believes has been failed by the city’s administration. Their 2017 efforts were bulldozed to the tune of $75,000 tax dollars

Despite the threat of continued, unnecessary and violent responses, The Village has been fighting for the creation of temporary and permanent housing solutions ever since. On Oct 3rd, 2017 City Council unanimously voted to: pass the shelter crisis declaration which grants The Village and other community groups and movements power to build unconventional shelters under deregulated housing codes in the face of a total lack of affordable housing and a growing health and human rights disaster. City Council also unanimously passed a resolution for the Administration to grant The Village land. Ever since the land was offered on Oct 5, four months ago, the residents say it’s been a frustrating and exhausting journey simply trying to provide for themselves without retaliation or obstruction.

The residents assert housing is a human right and that City Administration is violating the rights of low-income and unhoused people through repeated criminalization, forced removal, the herding of humans and deepening the crisis at the city owned parcel.

“We hope that the City of Oakland will understand the necessity for action. The Village and the City can keep on talking. But we are going to build. We have blueprints, a site plan, resources. The only thing that keeps getting in the way is the Mayor. They ignored homeless folks until they couldn’t ignore us anymore. We hope the Mayor and Administration do the right thing and support the community’s response. We hope the powers that be cease being bureaucrats and tap into their humanity and Spirit of The Town by responding to this situation with unrestricted kindness and compassion to save lives,” said Village co-founder Needa Bee.

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Photos from The Village Groundbreak on Martin Luther King Day Weekend

https://www.facebook.com/pg/The-Village-in-Oakland-feedthepeople-731643677003021/photos/?tab=album&album_id=922399464594107

Photos of The Village building this past week

Violence Against Women is our Permit

City Administration Created Unsafe Conditions on Land Offered To Village, Bureaucracy Slows Down Progress

Safety First Says The Village, Violence Against Women Is Our Permit

(February 1, 2018 – Oakland, CA) – Two weeks ago, The Village broke ground on Two Three Hunid Ohlone Village – a plot of land offered by The City of Oakland through the emergency shelter declaration we campaigned the City Council into passing. But we did not get beyond groundbreaking, as the bureaucracy continues to respond in a non-emergency fashion to a crisis they created.

One year ago, housed and unhoused community members undertook a direct action to create a Promised Land to provide shelter, food, first aid and other resources to Oakland’s homeless population, who have been failed by the city’s administration. Our efforts were bulldozed, but we have been fighting for the creation of temporary and permanent housing solutions ever since. On Oct 3rd, 2017 City Council unanimously voted to: pass the shelter crisis declaration; make the Administration give us land; and make the Administration work with us. And tho the land was offered to us Oct 5 and two weeks ago, we broke ground – it’s been a frustrating and exhausting journey.

In the same breath they offered us land, the Administration closed down six encampments throughout East Oakland and herded the encampments onto the property. The results have been disastrous. The land is quickly overcrowding, health and safety are serious issues, and success of The Village has been jeopardized.

Located on the e12 between 22nd and 23rd avenues, the one acre plot of land was intended to be filled with 40 tiny homes, a health/wellness/recovery center, computer lab, art studio, gardens, sanitation services, case management and classrooms for a variety of life skills and trade skill courses. The intention is to get people off the ground, out of tents and into temporary sturdy shelters, while providing support and services to get Oakland’s most vulnerable on their feet, achieving their goals and transitioning into permanent housing.

We asked for unpolluted and unoccupied land. We got the opposite. But it’s not our unsheltered folks fault they are getting shuffled around and having their human and civil rights violated. All these folks deserve and need housing and support. So despite the Administration’s cruel and unusual actions, we are committed to serving the folks there.

The Administration was notified of the dangerous health and safety circumstances in a letter sent January 16, 2018. In the letter, The Village and Two Three Hunid Ohlone Village residents informed the Administration that despite the Village and Admin still being in negotiations around details in our contact with the City, immediate action needed to take place. We informed the city officials that a perimeter must immediately go up to prevent more folks from moving in and to protect the women, children and elderly living in the encampment from predators. In addition, we told the City that women and families with children will be immediately housed. We stated that we would take these immediate emergency measures to save lives and continue the negotiate our agreement with them.

There was no movement from The Administration on the matter. In fact, the Administration asked for proof that these rapes are happening. However, Council members, neighborhood businesses and organizations, residents in the area and residents of the encampment want immediate action to happen. None of us can understand why The Village homes have not yet been given a green light to go up under the shelter crisis declaration passed four months ago.

The Village asserts that housing is a human right and that City Administration is violating the rights of low-income and unhoused people through repeated criminalization, forced removal, herding of humans and creating dangerous conditions during a visibly dire crisis, and deepening the crisis at the city owned parcel – a crisis that has been legitimized through the unanimously passed emergency shelter ordinance which grants us the power to build unconventional shelters under deregulated housing codes in the face of a total lack of affordable housing and growing health and human rights disaster. We hope that the City of Oakland will understand the necessity for action as we continue to negotiate with them. We hope the Mayor and Administration do the right this and support the community’s response. We hope the powers that be cease being bureaucrats and tap into their humanity and Spirit of The Town by responding to this situation with unrestricted kindness and compassion to save lives.

Press Contact:

Needa Bee, Phone: (510) 355-7010

#TheVillageOakland #HousingIsAHumanRight #ViolenceAgainstWomenIsOurPermit #MeToo #HoldLibbyAccountable

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The Village Returns

The Village Returns:

A Year of Building on The Street and at City Hall

Press Contact:

Needa Bee, Phone: (510) 934-8373

January 13, 2018 – Oakland, CA – One year ago, housed and unhoused community members undertook a direct action to create a Promised Land to provide shelter, food, first aid and other resources to Oakland’s homeless population, who have been failed by the city’s administration. Our efforts were bulldozed, but we have been fighting for the creation of temporary and permanent housing solutions ever since. This weekend, with the blessing of an Ohlone chairwoman, we break ground on Two Three Hunid Ohlone Village, a plot of land offered by the City of Oakland through the emergency shelter ordinance we have pressured into passing.

Located on the e12 between 22nd and 23rd avenues, the one acre plot of land will soon be filled with 40 tiny homes, a health/wellness/recovery center, computer lab, art studio, gardens, sanitation services, case management and classrooms for a variety of life skills and trade skill courses. The intention is to get people off the ground, out of tents and into temporary sturdy shelters, while providing support and services to get Oakland’s most vulnerable on their feet, achieving their goals and transitioning into permanent housing.

The Village asserts that housing is a human right and that City Administration is violating the rights of low income and unhoused people through repeated criminalization and forced removal during a visibly dire crisis – a crisis that has been legitimized through the unanimously passed emergency shelter ordinance which grants us the power to build unconventional shelters under deregulated housing codes in the face of a total lack of affordable housing and growing health and human rights disaster.

The ordinance also suspends the need for general liability insurance due to the urgency created by the crisis. However, the city has imposed a $2 million policy on The Village regardless. This imposition has become an obstacle to a contract being finalized that would allow our building to officially begin on site. Because of the radical nature of our mission, insurance companies refuse to serve us. Although City Administration has offered financial support to cover the cost of the insurance, we should have been able to start building without fear of eviction and criminalization three months ago when the ordinance was passed.

Despite the bureaucratic setbacks, The Village and existing E12th St encampment residents are committed to breaking ground this weekend to begin to prepare the land. We hope that the City of Oakland will understand the necessity for action as we continue to negotiate with them, and will not destroy the community’s response due to a lack of protocol that is technically waived by the enacted crisis ordinance. We are responding to this situation with unrestricted kindness and compassion to save lives.

Because local government has been complicit in creating the housing crisis, the struggle to alleviate the damage it is causing must be led by impacted communities, including homeless people. The city has failed to protect Oakland’s low income and Black and Brown residents during a volatile housing boom. This month, The Village and unhoused representatives will be meeting with a delegation from the United Nations to share reports and testimonies and document the many human rights violations that take place in our streets every day at the hands of City Administration and other agencies.

This weekend, as we commemorate the life of one the greatest civil rights leaders in history, The Village is challenging Mayor Libby Schaaf and her cabinet members to ask themselves: #WhatWouldMartinLutherKingDo?

Because models like The Village make it possible for communities to create autonomous interim solutions with little support from the local government – Mayor Schaaf, her administration, and City Council should be focusing their efforts on creating permanent housing for unsheltered residents rather than replicating the community’s model. We demand that the City expand permanent low income housing options throughout the city and county and more quickly respond to predatory tools such as substantial rehabilitation and illegal evictions.

The Village is welcoming The Town to come on down to the new sanctuary and get involved to support immediate community based solution to the homeless state of emergency. We also hope our efforts inspire and encourage others who have the capacity and resources to create their own solutions using the tools of the shelter crisis declaration.

Hashtags:

#TheVillageOakland #HomesAndDignityForAll #HousingIsAHumanRight

#CityHallGetUsPermanentHousing #WhatWouldMLKDo

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We Got Land!

“The Village” Offered 1 Acre Of City Owned Land To Build Homes For Homeless

City Forced To Adopt Safe Havens Due To Success Of Militant Grassroots Efforts

Oakland, CA – Thursday afternoon, nine months after bulldozing The Village – a radical community effort to immediately provide shelters and services to Oakland’s homeless – the City Administration granted the movement a large parcel of land in East Oakland.

“We are happy that we have the support of city council and staff in City Hall. We are thrilled that the City Administration finally saw the light, and instead of continuing to fight us, found inspiration in our vision and model and is fleshing out their plan called the Safe Haven,” said one of The Village’s lead organizers Needa Bee. “We are happy that the City did the right thing. It was a long, frustrating and slow winding road. But we are happy we have reached the goal: for the City to accept that housing is a human right, that homelessness is not a crime and that everyone deserves a place to call home.”

In the middle of the night on January 20, 2017, under the cloak of the year’s largest rain storm and overshadowed by the inauguration of Donald Trump, a group of nearly 100 grassroots community activists seized Grove Shafter Park, aka Marcus Garvey Park, on the West Oakland/North Oakland border and began building homes and services for Oakland’s unhoused. Their action was a result of the City’s zero response to a homelessness and housing crisis that City Council had declared the previous year. With a zero dollar budget, in 13 days the movement grew into hundreds of volunteers who built 6 homes and offered dozens of services to anyone who needed them, including hot meals, health and wellness services, provisions, a bathroom and two hot showers. In less than two weeks 16 chronically homeless drug users were sheltered and off drugs.

The City responded by spending $75,000 taxpayer dollars to bulldoze the effort.

Since then, The Village, through the creation of the Homeless Advocacy Working Group – a body created out of the rubble of the bulldozers – has been tirelessly lobbying City Hall to pass the Shelter Crisis Ordinance, which would give The Village and other community groups public land to continue their work without harassment, and to get the City to come up with their own solutions. This past Tuesday, October 3rd, City Council passed the Shelter Crisis Ordinance and gave the green light for homeless encampments with shelters and services to be created on City-owned or managed lands. Yesterday the City Administration offered The Village a parcel of land in East Oakland located at East 12 and 23rd Ave.

“The level of egotism and resistance from the Administration has been ridiculous. But we are so happy that they are finally on the humanitarian page and accept that the shelters, closing down encampments, shuffling and criminalizing homeless just don’t work. Our efforts have helped shift the Administration’s approach to the crisis,” Bee said. “We have now opened the door for others in the community to step to the plate and throw down. Which is what needs to happen. We are going to need 100 different solutions and as many villages as possible to deal with this crisis. The homeless population is in the thousands and the 40 Tuff Sheds the City will provide in their safe havens and the 40 shelters we will provide in our first village will barely scratch the surface.”

The East Oakland Collective is a supporter of The Village and has been doing work in Deep East Oakland to serve the homeless community. The Village hopes they are next in line to receive public lands to implement their solutions to this crisis.

The Village plans to operate several sites in several neighborhoods using City, County and private lands they will lease to the community group. The Village is also planning to purchase lands to build both temporary and permanent housing. Each village will serve a particular demographic of the diverse unsheltered population. There will be a village for those in recovery, a harm reduction village, a site for families with children and elders who have been recently homeless due to gentrification, an LGBTQ community, a women’s location and an encampment for RVs and campers.

Unlike the City’s safe havens, The Village will build custom designed homes that are 12 feet high and 120 square feet in area for individuals. Larger dwellings will be built for families depending on their size. Sites will also include wrap around services, job training, employment opportunities for residents, 24 hour community security, sanitation services, a computer lab, art studio, health and wellness clinic, chicken coops and gardens. For the broader community, food services and provision distribution programs will also be offered.

The Village is completely run on donations and volunteers and is significantly less costly than the City’s $550,000 per encampment version. Bee said the support from the community, nonprofits, religious groups and the unhoused is vast.

“We started as a direct action, and when they bulldozed us we became a mighty movement. And now we are a membership based organization and alliance of many organizations,” said Bobby Qui, member and builder with The Village. “And now we are going to need all hands on deck. Winter is around the corner and the rains are coming. Let’s get folks off the sidewalks, into supportive environments towards self–sufficiency and ultimately into permanent housing.

If people want to learn how to plug in, they can follow them on their Facebook page The Village in Oakland #feedthepeople. Currently they are accepting gift cards to hardware and home improvement stores as well as donations of building materials.

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Contact Needa Bee for images and graphics

510-355-7010 maowunyo@gmail.com