Ongoing programing at the West Oakland Youth Center, an island of services for some of the city’s young people most in need of job training and support, have been disrupted as the city so far has failed to renew the contract that allows the center to operate.
The center’s director and advisory group members say they want the city to expedite the reopening of the center, which has been closed since Jan. 6, laying off staff and young people who work at the site.
They are calling for the city to be more transparent in its dealing with the center, located at 3233 Market St.
“You can’t be letting the safety net be ripped apart, and you don’t even tell anybody,” said Jumoke Hinton Hodge, a member of the center’s advisory group and the Board of Education.
“The language of the city is temporary closure, but the center has been five weeks without a contract and no communication,” said Liz Derias-Tyehimba, the center’s director.
Neither the Office of the Mayor or the City Administrator responded to the Post’s questions.
In an email statement to the Post, West Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney said these facts are not correct.
“The center is not closed,” she said.
However, a visit to the center yesterday at 3 p.m. revealed a big sign on the front that said, “We are open!” But the building was closed.
Councilmember McElhaney said the decision to close the center was made by its director.
“At the time of that decision, the city and the fiscal agent had been working to clarify and resolve several issues of operational and management concern that must be addressed. This resulted in a delay in the execution of the contract,” said McElhaney.
The issue is that this is the third time the city has had a lapse in procuring the contact in the last four years, said Derias-Tyehimba.
But there is no reason that the concerns are not worked out before the contract is allowed to expire, she said. There is no reason that the center should be closed, and youth should not be going without the programs that they desperately need.