In October 2017 after 8 months of advocating, the City Administration gave us land in East Oakland on e12 and 23rd Ave. But the administration operated in ill faith. Rather than allow us to move forward, obstacle after obstacle was laid in our path.
First, without notice to us, The Mayor’s agents herded mutiple existing encampments on the land. People were threatened with arrest if they attempted to leave – including rival families and known enemies.
Because many of these folks did not choose to be on the land and were not interested in going into recovery, our vision was never allowed the chance to spout and take root. We had moments where we were able to build a fragile unity between the encampment of residents that at it’s largest was 100 deep. We spent most of the year on the land dealing with crisis after crisis, keeping people from killing each other and chasing off predators. We built six homes to house 11 people – senior citizens and a woman with a child.
In March 2018 we learned that the land we were granted was in fact not City-owned land. It was the state of California’s land, owned and operated by Cal Trans. Cal Trans had no idea the administration offered us the land and that we were building homes for a massive encampment that had grown to 80 residents. There was a 10 year plan in the making for Cal Trans to retrofit the overpass that spanned across the property and that The Village and the unsheltered residents herded onto the land would have to move. To date the eviction is scheduled for January 2019.
Tho the vision of The Village never manifested on e12th and 23rd Ave, Village volunteers still came three to four times a week providing hot meals, supplies and provisions, doing trash pick up, helping residents with rides and paperwork.
The City’s end of this “sanctioned encampment” was to offer proper sanitation including portable water, trash services and portapotties. The City fell very short on this promise. Between the corralling of humans that caused tensions and overcrowding and complete neglect of sanitation services, conditions at The Village became unbearable.
In the end, we should have known better – that the mayor and her agents would not work with us in good will. The land should have never been offered to us as it was CalTrans not City owned. CalTran was unaware that we even were offered the land. The City evicted us January 29, 2019 over a for day demolition so that Cal Trans could retrofit the overpass that spans the parcel.
The Administration was supposed to offering us a new parcel of land to manifest our vision correctly and without sabatoge. The Miller Ave. site was offered, but later revoked to “punish” us for creating the Housing & Dignity Village in Deep East Oakland.https://abc7news.com/society/city-crews-clear-big-oakland-homeless-encampment/5115527/
Oakland’s eviction henchman Joe Devries is pressed on the city’s PR that every unhoused person is provided shelter when a camp is closed, says it’s not a yes or no question. Later, he talks about a “phased” approach to moving people, which is how the city escapes accountability. pic.twitter.com/PxF9Zb9paI— Indybay (@Indybay) January 31, 2019
In the meantime, Feed The People and The Village have collapsed into one entity that continues to provide hot meals, provisions, advocacy, defense, and support to dozens of encampments around Oakland. We create literature and media to change the narrative around homelessness and engage in work to decriminalize homelessness. We are involved in building powerful alliances and coalitions to achieve our goals. and continue to pressure the city to use its resources and networks to prioritize the only solution to homelessness: permanent housing for Oakland’s no income, low income and working-class residents. Unfortunately the administration is continuing to prioritize the development of unaffordable housing for middle class and high-income residents who do not live here yet, while wasting money on Tuff Shed Torture Camps.
We challenged the inaction of the City of Oakland, saying that the City has proven its disloyalty to its long term families displaced in this city-initiated housing crisis. We broadcasted that the City has not implemented sufficient efforts to address homelessness, such as building permanent public housing, starting with housing for those who have been displaced by the housing crisis, particularly Black and Brown people. We told the city to let the community build the temporary emergency housing solutions in the 100s of ways we could. We told them its the City’s job to build permanent housing for all.
Since that day the City has build zero units of permanent housing for curbside residents. And five tool shed sites that temporarily corrals 200 people for 6 months. We have documented abuses, mismanagement, and wasteful spending at all these tool shed sites. A majority of unhoused neighbors who have cycled out of the tool shed sites have ended up right back on the same streets they were evicted from.
Anyone is welcome to join our movement! Please check our How to Get Involved Page to plug in, follow us on Facebook @The Village in Oakland, or go to our donation page to donate now!