Will City Act to Keep Nonprofits from Being Forced Out of Oakland?

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Oakland nonprofits conduct job training courses, employment workshops and hiring fairs for members of the community.

Members of the City Council and community leaders are joining forces to push the City of Oakland to respond to the rapid rise in commercial rents that is driving many nonprofit organizations out of the city, especially agencies that serve young people, the formerly incarcerated, the jobless and homeless and other vulnerable parts of the community.

The council’s Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee will be addressing the impact of escalating and unaffordable rents on Oakland’s non-profits at its meeting Tuesday, June 13, 1 pm. in Oakland City Hall.

“Please plan to attend and share your perspectives and recommendations on how city government can help. After all, it is the community organizations and other non-profits that are central to stemming the tide of displacement of Oakland residents,” said Gay Plair Cobb, CEO of the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC).

Councilmember Desley Brooks, who has been pushing the council to take action to protect local nonprofits, had asked city staff to produce the report documenting the impact of increasing rents on nonprofit agencies.

Brooks is also concerned that the City of Oakland plays a role that hampers the survival of nonprofits that have contracts with the city.

“(We’re) not just talking about the high cost of rent but also discussing what the city does to exacerbate the rent crisis,” she said.

“The city makes small nonprofits carry the city to do work for the city. We make organizations advance monies in order to do work for the city,” she said. “Then we nickel and dime them when they seek reimbursement.

“I will be making a policy proposal change in the budget process which would provide ‘mobilization monies,’ to nonprofits receiving grants under: the Cultural Arts Grants Programs,
Community Development Block Grant Program (Community Awards) and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The staff report on displacement of Oakland nonprofits was originally discussed at the April 11 CED committee meeting. At that time, committee members voted to continue the discussion at a future meeting after Brooks asked them to keep the issue on the agenda.

“I said they should (keep the issue) in committee so they could work on the issues confronting non-profits,” said Brooks.

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