By Ellie Brumbaum
Grassroots Movement Continues to Claim Public Land To Provide Shelter and Services for Oakland’s Unhoused Women
On the morning of Saturday, October 27, 2018, a coalition of Oakland community members took over a city-owned plot of land at Edes and Elmhurst in Deep East Oakland, on Chochenyo Ohlone land. They moved in a medical tent, an outdoor kitchen, supplies for a small community garden, and other services. They are declaring it a service hub for curbside communities and housed residents in the area, who have been deprived of basic services by the City of Oakland. It has been named Housing and Dignity Village, and is a clean and sober encampment for the unhoused cisgender and trans women of Oakland, their partners, and their children. As a Community Resource Center and Garden, the Housing and Dignity Village will be a service and community hub for housed and unhoused neighbors.
The coalition includes unhoused and housed Oakland residents from the grassroots community group The Village, members of The East Oakland Collective, and advocates for the human rights of curbside communities. The group denounces city officials’ lack of public land policy that benefits the working class, Black and brown communities who are Oakland’s longest-term residents. This action proclaims that housing is a human right, and housing should be available to all. In particular, it highlights the experience of unsheltered women, and declares their right to safety and long term housing, despite their “unique vulnerability to violence and sexual assault” (UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing), and the high rate of homelessness for survivors of domestic violence (between 22 and 57% of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness). In establishing this space, the coalition proclaims that homelessness is a woman’s issue, and registers the hypocrisy of the Mayor, who has written publicly in support of the #MeToo movement, in her gross negligence of the unhoused women and LGBTQIA people of Oakland. These encampment residents’ vulnerability to sexual abuse is a direct result of the absence of any significant low-income housing policy from Libby Schaaf’s office.
This reclaiming of public land for public good also demonstrates the tenacity of the community to provide for one another, especially those living on the street, in a dignified and compassionate manner when the city refuses to do so. The organizers seek to engage the neighborhood surrounding The Housing and Dignity Village in developing a vision for the parcel that benefits the needs of both the housed residents, and the large curbside community in the area.
For updates on #HousingAndDignityVillage on social media:
- The Village on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
- East Oakland Collective on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
The Housing and Dignity Village demands are as follows:
- Upgrade, Don’t Evict Camps.
- Public Land for Public Good.
- Public Land In Public Hands.
- Section 8 in Condos and Luxury Apartments.
- NO MORE EVICTIONS! NO MORE SWEEPS!
- Homelessness Is Not A Crime.
- No More Tuff Sheds.
- Respect Unsheltered Neighbors.
- Public Review & Rule!
- All current residents of Two Three Hunid Tent City located on E.12th and 23rd Ave. get immediate permanent housing.