Oakland Community Forum Jan. 4 for More Affordable Housing and Jobs

Speakers at city council committee meeting March 3 called for council to declare a housing state of emergency and moratorium on rent increases and evictions. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

Speakers at city council committee meeting March 3 called for council to declare a housing state of emergency and moratorium on rent increases and evictions. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

A community-led meeting will take place in the new year to build a unified response to the out-of-control displacement that is occurring in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire, affecting those who live in warehouses, the growing homeless camps, evictions of nonprofits from downtown Oakland and the crisis of affordable housing that the city is facing. 


The forum will take place in Oakland City Hall chambers, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4.


This is an open forum at which the public is invited to speak.


Organizations and individuals are invited and are being contacted to participate in and co-sponsor this community forum. Please feel free to forward to your lists and to others who would like to be involved.


For information call (510) 287-8200.


Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has agreed to host the meeting at the request of the community, and Councilmember Noel Gallo is also endorsing the event.


The purpose of the meeting will be to provide opportunities for Oaklanders to make the city aware of its responsibilities to offer solutions and answers to the growing crisis and concerns affecting the ability of Oakland residents to be able to afford to continue to live in Oakland.


The community forum will allow citizens the chance to participate in a “solutioning” process, pointing the direction forward rather than pointing the finger of blame, according to event organizers.


Sponsors and participants so far include representatives to the Oakland Justice Coalition, Oakland Private Industry Council, Oakland Alliance, OCCUR, Black Arts Movement Business District, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Post Salon Community Assembly and civil rights groups.


James Vann, a leader of the Oakland Tenants Union and the Post Salon Community Assembly, discussed some of the pressing actions that the city must take.


“The highest priority is an immediate moratorium on the eviction of artists and musicians in the warehouse spaces,” he said.


“Owners should be given an adequate period of time, like six months, to bring their buildings into adequately usable safe condition, not to full compliance of the latest building code, which would require all-new electrical, plumbing and sewage systems,” he said.


To help the homeless and displaced tenants, the city could use funds from the $600 million infrastructure bond passed in November to buy up abandoned and dilapidated buildings, put them into a publically owned land trust and create affordable housing right away, Vann said.


A few of the priorities developed so far by the Oakland Justice Coalition include:


The City Council should pass an emergency moratorium on evictions retroactive to Dec. 2.


The council should also prohibit random inspections by city Building and Fire Departments, except in cases of verifiable life-threatening situations.


According to ACCE Action in Oakland, the city is ignoring the plight of poor working families of five to seven people that are living in an illegally converted garage or in spaces that are not up to code.


The mayor should take the leadership to ensure these spaces are rehabilitated without displacing tenants, says ACCE.


There is money in the city’s infrastructure bond and the county bond, A1, which should be used to retain local families, rather than to pay for a Raiders deal, according to ACCE.


The Ghost Ship fire has melded the issues of affordable housing, livable wages and Oakland-first hiring as concerns for the city, according to Post publisher Paul Cobb.


Cobb says the city should:


Use city- and county-bond funds for affordable housing units sponsored by faith-based and/or community-based groups that will provide housing with the acceptance of Section 8 vouchers because many landlords are refusing to accept the vouchers.


Appoint affordable housing advocates to the Planning Commission and charge the Planning Commission with reviewing the community-benefits plans of proposed developments.


Require that all developer’s plans be reviewed by the City’s Department of Race and Equity.


The city should fully fund and support the jobs and career centers in Downtown, West Oakland, East Oakland and Fruitvale districts of the city.


Dot-com and digital companies should be required to underwrite replacement housing as mitigation for the economic disruption that their new businesses are having on the families and schools of Oakland.


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