A Year of Building on The Street and at City Hall
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.
#TheVillageOakland #HomesAndDignityForAll #HousingIsAHumanRight