United Nations Reports

U.N. 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

Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms . Note by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly 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, Leilani Farha, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 15/8 and 34/9. Read the Full Report

U.N. REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON EXTREME POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS ON HIS MISSION TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 2018

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. 68 Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development. The Right to Rest Act introduced in California, Colorado and Oregon is an example of the type of legislative approach needed to shift from the criminal justice response to a human rights-centred response to homelessness. Read the Full Report

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/

Weaponized Tuff Sheds

A statement from The Village & Feed the People

You are being played, Oakland.

As the City continues to push forward with a third Tuff Shed lot in the Kaiser Auditorium parking lot, we are compelled to tell you the truth of how these sites are being used politically and what they are like on the inside.

When the people of Oakland moved the City Council to unanimously pass a Shelter Crisis Declaration Oct 3, 2017 that would immediately allow emergency temporary housing and services to be created as a pathway to permanent housing in the midst of this homeless state of emergency, using sanctioned sites as a pretext for area evictions and doubling people up in uninsulated tool sheds with no running water or electricity was not what we were talking about.

CITY SANCTIONED SITES = EVICTIONS

Each time the city has sanctioned a site for outdoor emergency use, an explicit part of their plans is to evict all other camps in the area. The “Compassionate Communities” at Peralta/35th, the tentative village site at 23rd&12th Ave, the first Tuff Shed yard at 5th and Brush, the second Tuff Shed at Northgate – all included explicit directives to OPD and DPW to evict all other camps in the area no matter how many people it would displace and put into motion. Despite the City’s numbers, the first Tuff Shed yard put over 100 people into motion while only providing slots for 40. The second Tuff Shed site left more than 60 people with nowhere to go. And this third Tuff Shed lot at the Kaiser parking lot is estimated to displace more than 100 people again. In each case only 40 spaces were available for temporary shelter.

In this way, these are programs more for camp suppression and eviction than providing entry to housing, herding our unhoused neighbors more out of sight away from services or driving them into a few now unsafe, filthy ‘mega-camps’ that these evictions are creating.

This third “ONC” (“Outdoor Navigation Center”) or Tuff Shed yard is to be no different. The city has planned that all residents around the Lake Merritt area are to be evicted, easily four times the number of people that could possibly be admitted to the 40 person Tuff Shed yard. The city claims that shelters will take in the overflow. This is nonsense. If this were in any way a realistic option, those camping on the street nextdoor would already be utilizing shelter beds. The City further assumes that their approach of staggering the evictions around Lake Merritt will allow for people to smoothly exit out of the Tuff Sheds to make room for the next wave of Lake Merritt evictions to move-in voluntarily.

However, if you ask unsheltered residents at Lake Merritt, a vast majority have no intention of moving into the Tuff Shed sites. In fact none of the Lake Merritt unsheltered residents were part of the planning process for this site. This is the same problematic procedure the other Tuff Shed sites implemented: no buy in or leadership from the people most impacted.

The city is still servicing appearances, creating photo ops for themselves and political cover for evictions more than facing the realities of our city and the homelessness crisis gripping it. And doing all this on the heels of last week’s 9th Circuit Court decision in Miller vs. Boise declared it is unconstitutional for a city to criminalize, move, evict, harass or take the property of any unsheltered residents when adequate housing is unavailable.


LIFE ON THE INSIDE OF A TUFF SHED CAMP

Increased policing, poor conditions, group punishments

A testimony from a recently evicted resident of the Tuff Shed site on 5th Street (see video https://www.facebook.com/731643677003021/videos/967948560039197/) exposes inhumane and substandard living conditions that the city has applauded and promised to replicate. The Tuff Sheds themselves, with a total lack of insulation and hardly any ventilation, are not satisfactory for human beings to live in to begin with. A tiny window is the only form of lighting, leaving disabled residents struggling to get around or see what they are doing. Based on testimonies from former and current residents, both West Oakland Tuff Shed sites are run through coercion, bullying and neglecting the residents, and especially the disabled and mentally ill. Residents report that the staff has used their power to force cooperation by withholding food, donated provisions, water and electricity as forms of collective punishment – and even by resorting to violence.

Residents report that the food has made them sick, they are not allowed visitors, they have a strict curfew, have to file grievances to the very people they have issues with – making the environment feel like a prison.

SO WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The city needs to invest and support community driven interim solutions such as The Village and stop wasting the public’s precious resources on failed debacles such as the Tuff Shed encampments.

The city needs to declare a full moratorium on camp evictions.

The city needs to place its resources towards PERMANENT HOUSING for no income, low income and working class households. Stop selling public lands for “affordable”, market rate and above market rate development. Stop using millions of public funds and donated resources towards temporary housing and build permanent housing now! That is the only solution to homelessness! Over the next 5 years there are more than 20,000 market rate and above market rate units slated to be built; there are just above 1,000 “affordable” units slated; there are zero working class, low income or no income units slated to be built.

If the City does not change its current course towards prioritizing money driven development, while ignoring Oakland’s vibrant families and criminalizing homelessness the crisis will not be solved – rather it will get horrifically worse.

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

What The Town Needs In A Mayor & Other Public Officials

A statement from The Village & #WeStillHere:

Oakland is our hometown. It is a city with an extraordinary past, a legacy of radical activism, and a rich, diverse culture all its own. It’s the land of the Ohlone people, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and Funk, the city where Bruce Lee once lived and where Cesar Chavez first started organizing. It was Tupac’s spiritual home and the home of Soulbeat, Festival at the Lake, the East Bay Dragons, Everett and Jones, Flints, Ricky Henderson, Marshawn Lynch, Gary Payton, Dru Down, Too $hort, and 3XKraxy. Oakland is a community where Black, White, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and LatinX people have lived together for generations.

Over the past several years Oakland has experienced a wave of gentrification and displacement characterized by skyrocketing housing prices and a rising cost of living. Many locals have been pushed out of the area, creating a huge demographic shift. The African-American population declined drastically from 48% in 1980 to 28% by 2010. Black people, Black culture, and Black communities are the underpinning of Oakland’s history, culture, and identity. We must tell the truth about what is actually happening in this moment.

The consequences of gentrification have been devastating for those of us raised here. We have watched as our friends and family members have moved away. Some of our neighborhoods have become unrecognizable. We have witnessed a rise in homelessness like we have never seen. And we are experiencing the criminalization of Black and Brown people, increasingly made to feel unwelcome in our own city.

On January 20, 2017, one hundred residents – some of us housed and some of us homeless – were sick and tired of the housing crisis. City officials had disregarded 17 years of demands to address the needs of Oakland’s low-income communities of color. We started a movement called The Village, and we declared ourselves ungovernable by a government that has proven to be ineffective and illegitimate – from Oakland City Hall to The White House. We began to build emergency shelters on underused, neglected lands for those who no longer had a roof in the city they called home.

We are now in urgent need of a new land site for the ‘villlage’ which will be displaced for construction. The City has promised to but after many months has not identified a site. There are no designated sites for the other several thousand people living on the streets either. Forcing people and camps to frequently move is a misuse of resources that causes stress and trauma. We must have more effective and respectful solutions, both for practical reasons and as a matter of racial justice. The majority of people who are homeless in Oakland are Black, which we see as the intentional result of decades of discriminatory housing policies and widespread structural racism. We insist that Black and Brown Oakland residents have a right to stay here, and to take up public space and thrive.

The right to exist in public space has increasingly been threatened, such as in April when a white woman called the police on a Black family for using a charcoal grill at Lake Merritt. Her racist actions sparked national outrage. The Oakland community and Oakland youth leaders responded with two major events, “510 Day” and “BBQ’N While Black” which drew numbers into the thousands and sent a strong message of resistance.

These movements to reclaim public space are important. But we also need to change the policies and practices that govern our community to realize our vision for an inclusive and equitable Oakland. We must fight for what will make it possible for Black people and other people of color to remain in Oakland. The identity and heart and soul of our city are on the line.

As politicians and candidates prepare for the November elections, we stand firm that we are ungovernable to those who seek to build careers, make profit or consolidate power for their personal gain. We do not endorse candidates, and have little faith in a system created off the rape, murder, theft, slavery, terror and genocide of Native Americans and stolen Africans. But we offer this guidance in the hope that whoever holds public office will work for the good of the public:

Politicians are public servants but too often they behave as public siphons, misappropriating public resources for private agendas instead of the public good. Unaccountable and non-transparent privatization of public resources is not what The Town needs.

The continued and blatant disregard of our communities’ needs results in widespread human rights and civil rights abuses and is unacceptable.

Oakland leaders must use the #WeStillHere Platform to guide decison-making. This will ensure that Black, Brown, immigrant, indigenous, working class, low-income, no-income, curbside and marginalized communities – the very communities that are the backbone of the innovative, soulful and resilient culture Oakland is famous for – are front and center in the policies and practices elected and appointed officials enact.

The Village stands behind the #WeStillHere Platform. We want and will fight for:

  • Quality low-income and no-income housing & shelter for all.
  • The use of public land and public resources to improve the quality of life for Oaklanders being displaced.
  • Equitably-resourced public schools that are relevant to students of color, which include programs that advance Black and Brown students in math and sciences, and that have supports such as restorative justice and peer counseling programs.
  • An end to the criminalization & mass incarceration of communities of color, and the right to have fun without being criminalized.
  • An investment in community-based alternatives to policing and incarceration.
  • Quality jobs & economic opportunity for Oakland locals.
  • Communities of belonging for immigrants, just immigration policies, and non-cooperation with ICE.
  • Access to health care, healthy living, and healthy food options for all.
  • The preservation and innovation of Oakland’s authentic culture.

We stand for an equitable Oakland where the lives of families of color, immigrants and low-income residents are valued and protected. Gentrification threatens to erase the history, culture, and identity of Oakland in just a matter of years. Oakland is far too special of a place for this to happen. We envision an Oakland that continues to be racially diverse and rich with the tradition of activism. We want an inclusive Oakland, one which embraces the future and stays true to our past. We urge political candidates to be committed and fight for this vision.

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

Statement From The Village & Allies On The Constant Attempts To Undermine The Community’s Efforts To Ensure The Human Right Of Housing For All

#DropTheVillageTwoCharges #HomesNotHandcuffs #HousingIsAHumanRight

(March 7, 2018 – Oakland, CA)

The Village is a people’s movement to ensure the human right of adequate, dignified, temporary emergency housing as a pathway to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. There have been continuous undermining attempts to compromise The Village’s progress by City of Oakland elected and appointed officials as well as law enforcement officers. 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.

Jodie Everett is part of The Village leadership and resident who intervened when his fellow Village leader and resident Mouangjoi Tracy Saelee Edmond when she attempted to defend herself from being assaulted with a nail-riddled two by four.

However, we know the person they were defending themselves and the encampment from is also a victim of the system. He 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. 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 long line of attacks on the homeless residents of Oakland and The Village began in February 2017 when Oakland City Administration spent $75,000 to bulldoze a safe, sober and organized encampment of tiny homes on neglected city land. It has continued with the City’s consistent avoidance of dealing with the humanitarian crisis of homelessness in a constructive and humane manner. It escalated when Assistant to the City Administrator Joe DeVries instructed police and Public Works to herd six encampments across East Oakland and dump them onto the land the city granted the Village. This herding of unsheltered folks happened without consulting The Village. The City designated East 12 Street and 23rd Avenue as a safe haven for homeless residents that The Village autonomously manages. Yet the City Administration proceeded to create dangerous, toxic, and unstable conditions.

By refusing to provide the same city services and treatment available to all of Oaklands housed residents, including protection and other basic services, the so-called safe haven has become a nest of violence and criminal activity that has traumatized and harmed the residents of The Village and the surrounding community. The Mayor, Administration, and Oakland Police Department have been informed repeatedly about the conditions, the ongoing violence, the danger they created. They are doing nothing to address the issues they’ve created.

And now, scheduled for November 2018, the City plans to take away the land it granted The Village five months ago. The 80 people the City herded will now be forcibly displaced to rebuild the overpass that spans across the parcel.

It has been a long drawn out act of sabotage to the wellbeing of the residents who were corralled here. The City has undermined the efforts of the residents at The Village to maintain basic survival and improve their own livelihoods. Attempting to criminalize two of The Village leaders for having to deal with dangerous and inhumane conditions created by the Administration is the latest of the unjust and deplorable attacks.

What Mayor Libby Schaaf, Assistants to the City Administrator Christine Daniel and Joe DeVries are responsible for undermining the livelihood of residents at The Village; what the police did and what the criminal system is doing is a waste of resources. These two leaders are not people who should be charged. These two leaders had to defend themselves in that moment. Consistent ineffective and inhumane homeless policies and police misconduct mean that charges should be dropped, and services provided. Monies spent on criminal injustices rather than services to our city’s most vulnerable is unconscionable. Monies spent on a corrupt police department to terrorize and harass our vulnerable curbside communities rather than permanent homes for the homeless is the sign of illegitimate leadership.

We demand these charges be dropped.
We demand the Mayor and her Administration be accountable for trying to deliberately obstruct and destroy The Village.
We demand all encampments be immediately sanctioned and provided with sanitation services, support services, security, and a pathway to permanent homes immediately.
We demand that the city give The Village four more parcels of land to accommodate and house the 80 people that have been herded onto the land we were granted during the Shelter Crisis Declaration that we will have to move from November 2018.

Signed:

– The Village

– The Law Offices Of Walter Riley

– The East Oakland Collective

– The Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute

– Land Action

– Design Reflux Collective

– Feed The People

– SURJ Bay Area

– Healthy Hoodz

– Young Oakland

– Coffee Not Cops

– Communities United For Restorative Youth Justice – CURY-J

– Spectrum Queer Media

– Sidewalk Rangers Defense Union

– Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque

-Design Action Collective

– Peacock Rebellion

– Movement Generation

– Agape Fellowship

– Ships In The Night

– Homeless Advocacy Working Group

– Do No Harm Coalition

– Catalyst Project

– Oakland SOL

– Cycles Of Change

– OneLife Institute

– Sudo Room

– Art Bison Design Coop

– Kazoo studios

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