How community activists rallied to halt a luxury tower for the rich and win affordable housing for the people of Oakland.
“The contrast was dramatic. Funding could be found for a jail, but not for a hospital. I think that aggravated and motivated a very passionate outcry from people in Contra Costa County.”
I had been homeless for two years in Berkeley and the things bound up in the protest reminded me so strongly of my own sentiments while I was without housing in this city. So I borrowed a sleeping bag and I headed over to the occupation at Old City Hall.
Many of Oakland’s homeless people are African Americans displaced or evicted, and now forced to move into illegal encampments. Oakland officials have used the decline in the African-American population to market Oakland to outsiders.
After Robert’s wife died two years ago, he lost his will to survive. Since then he has lived on the streets. He says what is most disheartening is the stigma attached to homelessness. He said he is looked upon as if he isn’t human.
Thanks to the initiative of homeless people, the sleep-in grew into several weeks of relative safety for people otherwise being shoveled out of parks like trash or hustled off public streets by the merchant groups’ hired patrols. The homeless people developed a functional government and crafted “no drugs or alcohol” rules.