Preliminary plans to air displaced Union Level residents after Oakland’s homeless affiliation resigns

With the City of Oakland expressing its intention to relocate unhoused residents of Union Point Park in East Oakland, some residents say they will refuse to move unless they can get a new apartment that gives them independence and services have to survive.

“We’re trying to find solutions to make it better for anyone who comes into this situation,” said Deanna Riley, who has lived at Union Point Park for two years.

Riley said she became homeless when her husband died shortly after he listed himself as the head of her home in Section 8 and she was evicted. She lives in an RV at Union Point, where she and other residents in similar situations have access to toilets and water. About 15 people currently live there.

But your stay at Union Point Park is meager. The park borders the waters of the Brooklyn Basin and is under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). On December 2, 2019, BCDC sent the city of Oakland a violation report We accuse Oakland of failing to “open the area for public uses such as hiking, fishing and picnicking.” BCDC broadcast on October 15th, 2020 an injunction to the city, which orders them to evacuate the residents living in the park by February 12th.

On February 5, the city released notices stating that they intended to vacate the park on February 9-11. On the eviction days, some residents of the park decided not to leave the park. Protesters, some of whom are members of the grassroots anti-gentrification organization The. were The United Front against Displacement (UFAD) supported them. Local residents and activists built a barricade out of rubble and unwanted material to slow the clearance efforts, holding signs and chanting.

“The City of Oakland was unable to close the park with the methods and resources that Oakland Public Works, Oakland Human Services, and Oakland Police Dept. “Do not fully implement such closure due to ongoing demonstrations,” Karen Boyd, Oakland citywide communications director, told the Oakland Post in an email of the attempted eviction. She added that the city is now “working with those present to reach a productive solution,” and that the BCDC has extended its deadline for evacuating residents to March 12th.

The Oakland Post spoke to eight residents of the park who said they would only leave if the city made them six key demands: new land to move to, long-term and independent use, garbage disposal, water supply, electricity, rooms store their belongings and bathrooms.

“We want a solution that is not just a stopgap,” says Matt Long, who lives in a self-built house in the park. “We want something that enables us to build our community, put down roots and feel good.”

The city recently successfully relocated a family who used to live at Union Point to a hotel room. However, other residents of the park said they were not provided with such options. Instead, the city has offered residencies in Oakland’s “Tuff Shed” programs run by nonprofit organizations. The city calls the clusters of 10 by 12 foot structures “community huts.” Residents feel that the land of the “community hut” cannot be fully used in these programs as the residents of the program do not cook food, have no visitors in their unit, have enough space to store their belongings, or come and go when you want or have to. Riley said she used to live in the program but had to leave when she got a night job because the program didn’t recognize her as living in her unit if she didn’t sleep in it at night.

From February 9-11, Oakland homeless administrator Daryel Dunston met with Union Point residents and some of their supporters at UFAD to view various nearby properties that residents could potentially move to. On February 11, Adam Garrett-Clark, who runs an LLC called Tiny Logic that specializes in organizing small communities, said Dunston had contacted him about working with the city and residents to set up a “co-managed warehouse.” to build. Garrett-Clark spent five years researching jointly governed models, including a three-day stay in Opportunity village, a city-sanctioned, co-managed small community in Eugene, Ore.

Garrett-Clark said “the main difference” between collectively governed models and the way cities generally operate housing for lodging “removes the paternalistic impulse that normally occurs when governments make housing available to people”. He believes that co-managed models bring more dignity and trust in the people they serve, and calls them an “answer to the protection system” in which residents have more power to run the rooms in which they live on a daily basis , say they spoke to Dunston, who supported and encouraged the idea, about moving to a jointly governed camp model.

Although the model has not yet been tried in Oakland, Garret-Clark said Dunston had repeatedly expressed an interest in it, dating back to the summer of 2019, when they discussed working together to apply the model to a community of uninhabited people who lived near Wood Street in West Oakland.

Part of Garrett-Clark’s desire to get involved comes from hoping to gain legitimacy and stability for a tiny house community he currently runs in West Oakland where his 62-year-old mother lives with five other people. The community has existed for over five years. He said the city is imposing $ 9,000 fines because it doesn’t sanction the tiny houses on land the community is on, even though he rents the land the houses are on from a landlord.

Garrett-Clark met with a few residents at Union Point after Dunston contacted him, which made them optimistic about a possible collaboration with Tiny Logic. On February 11, local residents and Dunston identified a small piece of land near public land, approximately 12,000 square feet, near the corner of 23rd Avenue and East 11th Street, which they discussed as a possible location for a move. Then on February 26th, Oakland City Administrator Ed Reiskin announced in. known an email that Dunston will quit his job with the city on March 8th.

Dunston has failed to respond to repeated requests from the Oakland Post for comment on this story. The announcement of his departure from the city has left residents unsure of what will become of their discussions about establishing a jointly governed camp, as neither Dunston, the residents, nor Garrett-Clark have agreed to formal contracts for relocation or related services.

Despite Dunston’s absence and no formal agreement, communications director Boyd said the city plans to pursue a model governed by residents. In an email to The Oakland Post, Boyd claimed the city was working to “identify partners” and that “there are a number of packages”. [of public land] that are being considered to implement a jointly governed camp pilot. ”Nor did she respond to direct questions about working with Tiny Logic or the use of the public property near 23rd Avenue and East11th Street.

“[Dunston] He talked a lot about what the city could do for the people, but he said a lot of things that he couldn’t pursue, ”said Adam Wurtz from UFAD. Wurtz has been organizing with residents at Union Point since last October to support them in securing claims in the event of an eviction.

Both he and local resident Matt Long claim Dunston talked about raising $ 200,000 in city funding to relocate and restore the Union Point community. But he has not had any contact with residents or activists since his announced plans to leave the country. City manager LaTonda Simmons will take on Dunston’s role until the city finds a permanent replacement, but activists and local residents say she has had no contact with them either.

Local residents say they no longer see clear signs that the city will follow a co-managed model. Some residents want to resist until their demands are met. The UFAD and local residents have been meeting weekly since the beginning of this year to organize such a resistance. Wurtz says he is “excited and inspired by how the residents believed in their ability to fight.” He and the local residents both claim that if they secure claims from the city in this situation, it will be easier for others in the future.

“We’re not just trying to tackle the homeless situation for ourselves,” said Edward Hanson, who has lived in Union Point for over 10 years, “we’re trying to address the homeless situation.”

Although the city has not officially announced a day of eviction, the BCDC’s order states that they would be able to find the city for $ 6,000 a day if residents stayed on site. Due to the threat of fines and the fact that the BCDC only extended its deadline to March 12, residents think the city will try to evict them soon.

in the a meeting with BCDC on February 24thDunston told BCDC officials that residents would volunteer until February 26, and the city would clear any remaining debris from March 3. But the residents are still staying on site and debris, much of which was reorganized into a barricade at the entrance to the park, has not been collected.

Unless the city gives residents the core demands for new land to move to, long-term and independent use, garbage disposal, plumbing, electricity, space to store their belongings and bathrooms, some residents plan to refuse to leave them.

“I will resist,” said Deanna Riley. “I do not go anywhere. When [the eviction] goes down, they’ll have a fight. ”

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