"We have left undone those things which we ought to have done" - Protestant Episcopal Church 1928 U.S. Book of Common Prayer


Schaaf And Oakland's Homeless Crisis

Homeless Encampment Eviction At Lake Merritt Thwarted By Protesters

Published by Oakland North October 25, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 27, 2018

By Katey Rusch

The city’s planned “clear-out” of a homeless encampment under Oakland’s 12th Street bridge did not happen Wednesday morning after a crowd of homeless advocates flooded the site in protest.

“We were successful today,” said Nino Parker, who lives in a tent above the bridge, after city officials left. Parker recruited homeless advocates, as well as city council and mayoral candidates, to show up to the site to protest the “eviction.”

Oakland city staff had vowed to clear the encampments around Lake Merritt weeks ago after opening their third “cabin community” at the southeast corner of the lake earlier this month. Joe DeVries, the assistant city administrator in charge of coordinating homeless services, said many homeless people living around Lake Merritt were offered one of the 40 bed spaces at the new Tuff Shed site.

The clear-out was planned for Wednesday at no specified time, but by 8:30 a.m., about 50 people had gathered holding signs, chatting and distributing coffee and breakfast sandwiches to the group.

Parker and DeVries got into a shouting match under the bridge when the city administrator showed up with Oakland police officers to clear the site, with Parker yelling “Not this time!” Just before 10 a.m. DeVries, surrounded by cameras, answered questions from reporters about the reason the city planned to clear this encampment. Parker, standing in the background, persistently injected, refuting the statements DeVries was giving to the press.

“Joe, you shouldn’t talk, because everything you say is bullshit,” said Parker.

The interruptions continued until the press conference turned into a one-on-one argument between Parker and DeVries.

“We actually offered you the first spot at the community cabins,” said DeVries to Parker, referring to the new Tuff Shed site near the lake. “You said you wouldn’t move in unless I moved in. You’re going to have to talk to my wife about that.”

“You talk to your wife about that,” said Parker.

The ten-minute exchange ended with DeVries walking away, mumbling “I’m done” as Parker called DeVries the “eviction king.”

“A bunch of activists showed up to make it impossible for us to do our work, so we left,” DeVries wrote later in a text to Oakland North. When asked if city staff will come back later to clear the site, DeVries wrote: “We’ll see.”

[Click on link to go to entire article]

After Scathing UN Report Calling Homeless Conditions 'Cruel And Inhuman,' Activists Demand Oakland Stop Street Removals

Homeless advocate Candice Elder, 34, checks in with Dorothy Smith, 65, at an encampment in Oakland on Aug. 24, 2018. Smith, who raised her children in the city, said her disability benefits are not enough to afford housing. 'It just don’t support me,' she said.

Published by KQED News October 24, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 26, 2018

About 100 homeless advocates and residents rallied in front of Oakland City Hall Tuesday, imploring the city to improve living conditions in homeless encampments instead of trying to tear them down and evict people living there.

Protestors also sent an open letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf asking her to stop ordering so-called "sidewalk sweeps."

The action was prompted by the recent release of a scathing United Nations report on global homelessness that specifically criticizes Oakland and San Francisco for denying basic services to people living in street encampments. The report is based on a walking tour taken by Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing.

Describing conditions at the homeless encampments as "cruel and inhuman," and comparing them to slums in the world's poorest nations, the report chastises both cities for denying basic services to people living on the street.

"Attempting to discourage residents from remaining in informal settlements or encampments by denying access to water, sanitation and health services and other basic necessities constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment," the report said, "and is a violation of multiple human rights, including the rights to life, housing, health and water and sanitation."

It added: "Such punitive policies must be prohibited in law and immediately ceased."

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Activists Protest ‘Cruel And Inhuman’ Treatment Of Homeless After Scathing UN Report

Published by the Mercury News October 24, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 25, 2018

OAKLAND — Activists on Tuesday demanded the city stop disbanding encampments and evicting homeless residents, citing a scathing United Nations report that accused Oakland of violating residents’ rights with its “cruel and inhuman treatment” of the homeless.

Nearly 100 activists, homeless residents and others gathered in front of Oakland City Hall, imploring city leaders to focus on improving living conditions at the city’s many homeless camps, instead of “sweeping” them off sidewalks and displacing inhabitants who have nowhere else to go.

The protest follows a damning UN report on global homelessness that describes encampments under California overpasses in the same breath as rat-infested camps in Mumbai, garbage-strewn settlements in Belgrade, overcrowded shacks in Mexico City, and damp, abandoned buildings housing migrants in Santiago.

In Oakland and San Francisco, officials are attempting to discourage homeless residents from living in the cities’ encampments by denying them access to water, sanitation and health services, according to the report.

“It says that Oakland needs to do way better than it’s doing now,” Candice Elder, executive director of The East Oakland Collective, said in an interview before the protest. “We need to make the encampments more humane and livable than they are right now, and Oakland’s not doing it.”

Oakland and San Francisco are the only two U.S. cities singled out in the 23-page report, which is “very damning,” Elder said. City officials provide portable toilets and hand-washing stations at just 13 of the city’s encampments, leaving many without services, she said.

Oakland’s homeless population grew by more than a quarter between 2015 and 2017, jumping from 2,191 to 2,761, according to the most recent Everyone Counts homeless census, which experts say likely under counts the population. The rapid growth has left city officials struggling to keep up.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

UN Report Singles Out Homeless Conditions In Oakland, San Francisco As 'Cruel And Inhumane'

Garbage overlowing from a dumpster at Lake Merritt, where homeless people were told to leave and relocate to another shelter

Published by KTVU News October 24, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 25, 2018

A United Nations expert on housing explicitly singled out San Francisco and Oakland as the only two U.S. cities that are part of a “global scandal,” describing homeless encampments there as “cruel and inhumane.”

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Canadian attorney Lelani Farha, presented her 23-page report on Oct. 18 in New York at the U.N. General Assembly after touring the world and visiting the Bay Area in January.

She also visited Berkeley and Los Angeles, but did not mention those cities in her report. On Tuesday, Bay Area housing activists held a rally at Oakland City Hall to discuss the findings. 

Farha issued 31 recommendations, namely earmarking enough money for the homeless, making sure building materials are affordable, prohibiting discrimination and stopping the eviction of homeless people and the criminalization of their behavior. 

“I visited California and saw firsthand the human rights' violations being experienced by people who are homeless,” Farha wrote. “They are the victims of failed policies—not the perpetrators of crime."

[Click on link to go to entire article]

How We Get Misled

Published by the Oakland's Getting Schaafted Website October 23, 2018

On October 15, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf headed up an Oakland City Hall press conference to announce the creation of a new "homeless prevention initiative" in the city called "Keeping Oakland Housed." In reporting on the press conference, the San Francisco Chronicle led with the headline that "Oakland To Pay Rent For Low-Income Residents At Risk Of Homeless." So naturally, most readers of the article concluded that 1) "Keeping Oakland Housed" was a City of Oakland-initiated and City of Oakland-run project, and 2) the low-income renters are going to have their rent paid out of City of Oakland funds.

But if you carefully read the article and do your research, you'll find that neither conclusion is true.

1) "Keeping Oakland Housed" is a program that was initiated and is being run by three Bay Area non-profits: the East Bay Community Law Center, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, and Bay Area Community Services.

2) Money for the project, including money for the rent payments, is coming, not from the City of Oakland, but from two local foundations: Kaiser Permanente and the San Francisco Foundation. That piece of information is buried almost at the bottom of the Chronicle story.

3) According to the Keep Oakland Housed website, "the City of Oakland is supporting Keep Oakland Housed with City resources including fundraising and staff support." What that support will actually be was not spelled out in either the Keep Oakland Housed website or in reports from the press conference.

But if all you read was the headline and the first few paragraphs of the San Francisco Chronicle story—which is what most people do—you'd think this was a Libby Schaaf-organized production and part of her stated goal to save the homes of 17,000 Oakland residents from gentrification-caused displacement.

And that's how we get misled.

Libby Schaaf's Homeless Plan

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf hugging supporter at Kaiser Convention Center Tuff Shed camp.

Posted on the OGS Website October 17, 2018

Is Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf working from a comprehensive, professionally-created, well-thought-out, well-developed plan to address, attack, and end Oakland’s homeless crisis?

If so, she’s been hiding it from the rest of us.

Creation of such a homeless plan would have had to be started in the first weeks of the Schaaf mayoral administration at the beginning of 2015. Even then, it was clear to anyone observing that Oakland’s homeless “situation” was becoming a full-blown crisis.

Such a mayoral-commissioned homeless plan would have started with a full-range study of the nature of the growing problem—who was living in Oakland’s streets and why, what economic, social, and political forces were driving people into homelessness, what strategies were needed to get them out.

Using this analysis and drawing upon the best, experienced minds from Oakland’s advocacy and faith communities, law enforcement professionals, political and social activists, and academics and students from the city’s many nearby colleges and universities, and others, a roadmap would have been developed on short-term strategies to both get people off the street into transitional housing as well as to better the conditions of those still on the street, and long-term strategies for permanent solutions and to help prevent such homelessness from reoccurring.

Such a mayor-commissioned comprehensive homeless plan—begun in the early days of the Schaaf Administration in 2015—would have taken some time to develop, probably a year to do the job right. While the plan was in the making, some preliminary actions could have been taken to ease the conditions of Oakland’s homeless population. By the beginning of 2016, a comprehensive Oakland homeless plan would have been in place and its implementation begun, and by now we would have been seeing positive results.

That’s how governments, businesses, and organizations address a problem that they are actually serious about solving.

But we have no evidence that there ever was a comprehensive Schaaf plan to end Oakland’s homeless crisis, nor any attempt to create one. Without a plan, there can only be chaos, and that’s what we have been witnessing from the City of Oakland during the time Libby Schaaf has been in office.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland's $9 Million Homeless Solution; City Launches New Preventive Program

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks at City Hall during a media conference announcing the city’s new Keep Oakland Housed program to prevent homelessness.

Published by the Mercury News October 15, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 16, 2018

As growing tent encampments sprawl over the city’s sidewalks and run-down vehicles turned into homes of last resort line the streets, Oakland on Monday launched a $9 million program intended to keep residents from ending up as another statistic in the city’s growing homeless population.

The initiative, dubbed Keep Oakland Housed, represents a new approach in the city’s response to the homelessness crisis. Instead of trying to get people off the streets, the new program will attempt to prevent them from landing there in the first place by providing emergency financial assistance, free legal representation and other supportive services to people on the brink of losing their homes.

It will be run as a partnership between three local nonprofits — Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and East Bay Community Law Center — and funded with $3 million from the San Francisco Foundation through an anonymous donor, and up to $6 million from Kaiser Permanente.

“No one deserves to spend a single night on the streets,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday during a news conference at City Hall. “And we here in Oakland want to keep Oaklanders here, securely housed.”

Cities throughout the Bay Area are struggling under the weight of a growing homelessness crisis, as skyrocketing rents push more low-income families out of their homes and into cars, RVs or tents. Twenty-nine percent of Bay Area renters are one financial emergency away from not making their next rent payment, according to a recent Zillow survey. In Oakland, the number of homeless people has grown by more than a quarter in two years — jumping from 2,191 in 2015 to 2,761 in January 2017, according to the Everyone Counts homeless census, which experts say likely undercounts the population.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Eyes Use Of CalTrans Property To Expand Tuff Shed Program

Published by Oakland North October 2, 2018
Posted on the OGS website October 7, 2018

By Katy Rusch

With a camel-colored scarf wrapped around her head like a hat, Latasha Hardman gives a tour of her West Oakland home. It’s in the middle of a homeless encampment under the I-580 freeway near 36th and Peralta Streets. The space consists of two camping tents with flaps facing each other. Draped over the two canvases are nearly half a dozen blankets. Below, two wooden pallets keep out the rain and rats. The 47-year-old says she’s lived at the intersection for two years. She greets those who enter the encampment with a smile and a handshake, but quickly admits that she doesn’t want to live in the camp she and others call Tent City.

A new law—signed last month by Governor Jerry Brown—may move Hardman out of her tent and into a Tuff Shed on land owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The law, which goes into effect January 1, allows the city of Oakland to lease up to 10 properties owned by Caltrans for $1 a month to help house and feed the homeless. Currently, California requires Caltrans to lease properties at market rate, but the new law will eliminate that requirement.

“This saves us a lot of money,” said Joe DeVries, the assistant city administrator who manages homeless outreach for Oakland. While Caltrans and the city are still working out the details, DeVries believes the law will allow the city to lease three or four Caltrans properties and expand its Tuff Shed program.

Oakland already has two existing cabin community sites in the North Gate and Castro areas with a third near Lake Merritt set to open this week. The sites are a cluster of tiny homes, 120-square-foot cabins that are used to house the homeless as they transition to permanent housing. So far, the response to the program has been mixed. Mayor Libby Schaaf calls the Tuff Shed program a success, citing a 55 percent placement rate from both camps into permanent housing, meaning more than half of the former residents are no longer homeless. But critics have frequently criticized the use of the sheds, pointing out that they do not have running water and those living in the sheds are required to have a roommate.

While city and Caltrans staff have not officially agreed which properties may become new Tuff Shed sites, reactions to the idea are already varied. “Hell no, I wouldn’t mind. I would love it,” said Hardman about the prospect of moving into a Tuff Shed. Hardman, who describes herself as courageous, said she’s been getting depressed lately, and she believes a cabin would be “a stepping stone to help me to feel better, to move forward.”

Hardman, a Stockton native, said she became homeless three years ago. She said she started living outside after she got into an abusive relationship and lost her job. Now, she said, she tries to keep up her morale. She does push-ups and tries to stay clean, showering at a nearby relative’s house when she can. She also keeps her signature style, a tan scarf wrapped around her head like a crown, “because I’m a queen. I’m still a queen, no matter what.”

But Hardman’s 61-year-old neighbor, who calls himself Spicy Mike said he would refuse the city’s offer. He said he wants to leave—“but not there,” referencing a Tuff Shed. “Are you serious? You know what kind of camp that is. That’s a concentration camp. That’s all that is. No water. No toilet. All you’re getting is a wooden tent,” he said.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland To Clear Lake Merritt Homeless Camps, Open New Tuff Shed Units

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle October 2, 2018
Posted on the OGS website October 4, 2018

Homeless encampments that have sprung up on the shores and parks of Lake Merritt in Oakland will be cleared in the coming weeks as the city attempts to move the population into sturdier housing units.

City officials and nonprofit contractors Tuesday were putting the finishing touches on Oakland’s third Tuff Shed village installment, located south of the lake, next to the shuttered Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and across the street from Laney College. Their goal is for the homeless to begin moving in Thursday.

There is room for 40 people at the location — with two beds in each of the 20 tiny homes, and a curtain divider for privacy. A recent census by the nonprofit Operation Dignity, one of the city’s contractors, found there were 65 homeless people living around Lake Merritt. City leaders say some of them will not want to move into the storage sheds, and others may find shelter on their own.

“This is a voluntary project,” said Joe DeVries, an assistant city administrator who heads up homelessness issues. “People are not forced into these, but it’s certainly something that gets people on a path to housing. We don’t consider these houses. We consider this moving from a tent to a bed, and then the next step is to move from a bed to real housing.”

But [Schaaf's] critics say the shed project is incommensurate with the scope of the problem in Oakland. Some advocates of the homeless population have decried the sites as overly stringent and denounced the city for clearing encampments.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland And Berkeley Homeless Sweeps May Be Unconstitutional

Published by the East Bay Express September 26, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 27, 2018

Camps assembled out of pre-fabricated "Tuff Sheds" have become one of the city of Oakland's primary responses to the homelessness crisis. Two weeks ago, Oakland set up its third Tuff Shed camp at the southern end of Lake Merritt where as many as 40 people at a time can be served.

But while Mayor Libby Schaaf's program has drawn praise, activists have criticized the city for closing other homeless camps — those that aren't controlled and sanctioned by the city — and for enforcing "no encampment zones" where unsheltered people are ordered to leave under the threat of citation and arrest.

Other East Bay cities are also pressing ahead with policies designed to remove homeless people from public spaces. For example, one group of unsheltered Berkeley protesters who call themselves "First They Came for the Homeless" have been repeatedly evicted from multiple campsites. In response, they've filed a lawsuit against the city. The city of Berkeley also evicted a community of homeless people living in RVs at the Berkeley Marina in July under threat of having their vehicles towed.

But now, a recent federal appeals court decision calls into question whether Oakland, Berkeley, and other East Bay cities are violating homeless people's constitutional rights.

In Martin v. Boise, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that local ordinances banning camping are unconstitutional when a city doesn't otherwise provide adequate shelter to house its homeless population. Judge Marsha Berzon wrote that criminal prosecution of people for sleeping outside on public property is a violation of the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment if the homeless have no alternative.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Opinion: Homeless Advocates Criticize Mayor's Tuff Sheds

Published by the Oakland Post September 23, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 27, 2018

The following op-ed was written by members of the Homeless Advocacy Working Group, James Vann and John Kirkmire, who criticize Mayor Libby’s plan to build install Tuff Sheds in Oakland in response to the homelessness crisis:

In a meeting, the Homeless Advocacy Working (HAWG) told Mayor Libby Schaaf that Tuff Shed villages were not a worthy approach and would not be among HAWG’s menu of solutions.

The Tuff Sheds, however, have been good for Mayor Schaaf’s image.  They give the outward un-scrutinized appearance of accomplishment, of something positive being done—despite their less than “drop in the bucket” impact on the real and escalating crisis.

[Click on link to go to entire column]

Oakland Mayor Schaaf Gets OK To Put Shed Camp Outside Kaiser Auditorium

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle September 19, 2018

Residents of a homeless encampment near the Kaiser Convention Center begin to remove their belongings in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. City officials are evicting the campers and plan to build sheds on the site for temporary housing.

By Phil Matier & Andrew Ross

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf just barely won approval Monday night for her Tuff Shed village near Lake Merritt.

Five Oakland City Council members — Noel Gallo, Dan Kalb, Larry Reid, Annie Campbell Washington and Abel Guillen — voted yes, while Desley Brooks and Lynette Gibson McElhaney were absent, and Rebecca Kaplan abstained.

Kaplan said the mayor’s strategy to set up 20 of the prefab sheds in the parking lot of the boarded-up Kaiser Convention Center failed to include plans for sanctioned homeless RV parking and the use of church parking lots for temporary housing.

“Instead, they brought up a proposal to help a tiny fraction of the people” at a higher cost, she said.

Residents Report Being Evicted From Tuff Shed Camp

The city’s pilot program to help address the homelessness crisis has also led to some evictions, and former residents say they are more vulnerable than ever.

Published by the East Bay Express September 18, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 19, 2018

A miniature basketball hoop is currently Michael London’s only possession. 

He has been carrying it with him for years, but holding onto it with greater intensity over the last few days. Sitting in the waiting room of the Homeless Action Center last Wednesday, London ran his fingers up and down the contours of the toy net, anxiously waiting to hear whether he would be able to return to his home and his possessions. 

“I never shoulda moved into those sheds,” he said. “I lost everything I had, and even though it wasn’t much, now it’s gone”

In May, London was one of 40 people to move into the Northgate Avenue Tuff Shed camp, a pilot program by the City of Oakland to provide temporary shelter to people experiencing homelessness. The Northgate camp is the second Tuff Shed site to open, and the city is planning to open a third. According to a recent city report, the two existing sites have collectively helped 41 people find more permanent housing. 

After an altercation on Sept. 7, London joined the ranks of those who have lost their place in the Tuff Shed camp since the site opened. One resident estimates that the camp has evicted 10 people during that period. 

London said he misses the relative security of the Tuff Shed, and he no longer has the tent he gave away when moving in. 

The experience of London and others who have lost their place at the camp is raising questions about what responsibility — if any — the city has to ensure that participants in the Tuff Shed camps do not leave worse off than when they arrived. 

[Click on link to go to entire column]

Oakland Has Sheds For Lake Merritt Homeless, But Most Famous Isn’t Interested

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle September 17, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 19, 2018

A homeless encampment occupies a parcel at Lake Merritt Boulevard and East 12th Street near the Kaiser Convention Center Oakland. Twenty Tuff Shed mini homes are going up this week in a parking lot next to the boarded-up Kaiser Convention Center on the east side of the lake for the homeless.

By Phil Matier & Andrew Ross

Campers living around Oakland’s Lake Merritt will soon be offered new Tuff Shed homes, but the lake’s most famous resident — who gained internet fame when “Jogger Joe” tossed his belongings into the water — says he’s not interested.

“Why do I need a shed?” said the man known as Drew (we’re told his real name is Greg), who calls the downtown lakeside his home.

Drew is one of 64 tent dwellers who will be offered space in one of 20 Tuff Shed mini homes that are going up this week in a parking lot next to the boarded-up Kaiser Convention Center on the east side of the lake. The area already had become home to many of the campers.

The shed village is the third of five “cabin camps” that Mayor Libby Schaaf hopes to have open by year’s end. They’re all located near existing tent encampments.

“Everybody living around the lake will, for a period of time, be offered a spot ... as they become available,” said Joe DeVries, an assistant to the city administrator who works on homeless issues.

Drew, however, doesn’t appear interested in sharing a 6-by-15-foot shed with a roommate, nor was he much interested in talking to a reporter. When we caught up with him, he was sitting on a pile of pillows and blankets beneath the column-framed portico that anchors the lake’s northeast shore — rocking back and forth, staring off in the distance and twirling his thumbs. His tent was off to the side, outside the portico.


However, the plan for replacing tents with sheds next to the Kaiser Auditorium is drawing skepticism from many of the lakeside campers, who say they were given only a week to sign up for the Tuff Shed housing or to move their belongings to a nearby sidewalk.

“It’s inhumane. I’d rather live in a f— tent than a toolshed,” said a woman named Rachel but known to her fellow campers as Mom.

A 28-year-old camper, who goes by the name Kid and who said he has lived on the streets since age 12, said he had mixed emotions about the city putting so much time and money into providing sheds that “look like a concentration camp when they could just help by providing electricity, showers and a bathroom” to the tent campers.

But DeVries said allowing the tent camps to remain isn’t an option.

[Click on link to go to entire column]

City of Oakland Plans To Ban Homeless From Camping Around Lake Merritt

A third soon-to-open Tuff Shed camp will 'resolve' homelessness around the lake, but unsheltered residents are planning a protest.

Published by the East Bay Express September 10, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 11, 2018

By Darwin Bond-Graham

Oakland officials are moving forward with a plan to close all of the existing homeless camps around the perimeter of Lake Merritt and to ban camping in the parks. But some homeless people say they're organizing against the ban.

The closure of lake campsites, which could affect as many as 100 people, will be phased in starting this week, according to city officials.

At a meeting last Thursday at Peralta Park, which is located between the Kaiser Auditorium and Lake Merritt channel, city representatives told about a dozen homeless people in attendance that the Peralta Park camp will be closed first in order to make way for a third Tuff Shed camp run by a nonprofit organization.

Talia Rubin of Oakland's Human Services Department told homeless residents who attended the meeting that the closure of the camps around the entire perimeter of Lake Merritt is a “geographic intervention.” She said residents of that camp will have up to 10 days to decide if they want to obtain a space in the new Tuff Shed camp. If not, they'll have to move.

One person at the meeting remarked that the plan to close all the homeless camps around the lake was happening just before the November election in which Mayor Schaaf and District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillen are running for reelection.

The city acknowledges that there are more homeless people living in the parks around the lake than can fit in the proposed new Tuff Shed camp. According to a city report, unofficial estimates are that there are as many as 50 people living around the lake. The city conducted a census late last month, but the results haven't been made public yet.

Nino Parker lives on the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel in a camp made up of seniors, with strict rules against using hard drugs. Parker has been rallying homeless residents to attend a meeting of the city council's life enrichment committee on Tuesday to speak out against the ban, and demand more assistance for the unsheltered.

“There's more people than sheds,” said Parker. Oakland's homeless population was estimated to have surpassed 2,761 last year, with 1,902 people unsheltered on any given night. The city's Tuff Shed program currently has spaces for only about 80 people.

“Fuck the sheds,” said a man who goes by the name Touché and lives under the oak trees on the north side of the lake.

Touché said there are probably around 100 homeless people camping around the lake, more than double what the city's Tuff Shed camp will accommodate.

Nino Parker (right) said homeless residents around Lake Merritt plan to protest the camping ban.

[Click on link to go to complete article]

Reflections On A Visit To Tuff Sheds Site

Published on the Shelter Oak website September 9, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 10, 2018

A group of workers ready Tuff Shed temporary housing units along Northgate Avenue and 27th Street on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. The city has leased land from Caltrans and installed 20 units that will house 40 people. 

OGS Website Note: The use of Tuff Sheds by the City of Oakland on city-sponsored homeless encampments is one of the responses by the administration of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to the homeless crisis in Oakland.

Opinion by John Kirkmire

Passing by the Northgate Tuff Shed site there seemed be a vast improvement over the out-of- control homeless encampments that overwhelmed the intersection at Northgate and 27th a few months ago. The area is cleaned and orderly and the green Tuff Sheds look way better than makeshift tents. It seemed to me the city, along with private donors, had found a useful path to address homelessness.

While the site is useful as a Navigation Center to help expedite available social services and hopefully process the homeless toward permanent housing, this 'safe' site can also be viewed as a controlled incarceration of the homeless, removing them from around the area and clustering them together where they need to sign in and out at a singular entry/exit point of the gated and barbed wire enclosure. Each of the 20 units has two occupants assigned to it who then share a claustrophobic 15 x 8 space. There is NO running water on site for the 40 inhabitants, screeching  BART trains and endless noise of the overhead freeway make the site that much more symbolic of an uncaring community. 

After touring inside Northgate I have concluded that Tuff Sheds, now known as Cabins  (Orwellian name for tool sheds) are inhumane, undignified and a terrible way to treat the disenfranchised who have come to expect nothing but grief from a gentrified society. To all the many well-intentioned people involved in this project, if any of us had to spend a full day/night on site, tool shed villages such as this would never have been created. It is a reflection of the disrespect we have for the homeless.

[Click on link to go to complete column]

Local Faith Community Offers Safe Spaces for Homeless, Hoping For Mayor’s Support

Published by the Oakland Post August 31, 2018
Posted on the OGS website September 3, 2018

Local faith-based organizations have stepped up to help create a solution to the human rights crisis posed by the City of Oakland’s failure so far to effectively respond to the growing homeless encampments in Oakland— including the public health dangers associated with large numbers of unhoused people living on the streets.

Five local churches have already agreed to offer their church parking lots as spaces where the homeless can live in tiny houses, as they become available, or park and live in their vehicles in safety with bathrooms, running water and garbage disposal—not preyed on by criminals or periodically driven from their encampments by police and city officials.

In addition, the churches have facilities that can be used for classrooms for job and career training, as well as to provide county health and human services.

Surprisingly, the main obstacle to these faith-based proposals appears to be the indifference and lack of urgency on the part of Mayor Libby Schaaf and her administration, which has not acted on this proposal for nine months.

When the members of the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) met with the mayor in March, she was unsympathetic to short-term solutions proposed by the faith leaders.

When she attended a public meeting of ICAC in June, she pledged to expedite the proposal. However, ICAC only received one noncommittal call from the Mayor’s Office. No further calls or emails were sent to ICAC between June and this week, when the administration finally agreed to start the process of providing resources for the proposal.

Update: The day after the "Safe Spaces For Homeless" article was published, the Oakland Post published the following update under the title "Schaaf Finally Pledges Homeless Resources After Sharp Questions":

The Oakland Post contacted the Mayor’s Office Wednesday morning seeking comments on allegations that Mayor Libby Schaaf has been “indifferent” to Interfaith Council of Alameda County’s proposal for the city to provide resources to urgently address the needs of Oakland’s homeless population.

ICAC President Pastor Ken Chambers told the Post Mayor Schaaf called him late Wednesday afternoon to find out what “ICAC needs to move the safe car park and tiny home program forward.”

“She verbally committed to recommend that the City of Oakland sole source (the funding) to the ICAC program (if it committed to serving) 500 people in tiny homes and or safe car parking on faith-based parking lots with wrap-around services,” said Pastor Chambers.

[Click on link to go to complete article]

Oakland Searches To Find New Home For Homeless 'Village'

A homeless encampment called "The Village" is located at East 12th Street and 23rd Avenue in Oakland.

[OGS Website note: This article illustrates what appears to be the policy of the Schaaf Administration to "disappear" Oakland's enormous homeless problem by simply moving the homeless camps from one location to another.]

Originally published by KQED News June 28, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website July 24, 2018

Oakland officials are searching for at least two sites to relocate an estimated 100 homeless people living at the city's largest encampment, according to Joe DeVries, assistant to the city administrator.

Everyone must be out by November when the 23rd Avenue bridge, which passes over the East 12th Street encampment, is scheduled to be retrofitted.

But the pending move is complicated by ongoing tensions between Oakland and activists with The Village, whose volunteers are building cabins for homeless people at the current site.

The encampment is a sprawling collection of tents, tarps and lean-tos. But at the southern end, The Village has constructed six one-room wood cabins providing some order to the surrounding chaos.

The Village, a city-sanctioned grass-roots project, is aiming to build a total of 40 of these cabins.

[But] there’s friction between The Village and the city.

The mistrust began when the city tore down a different Village encampment at Grove Shafter Park in West Oakland in February 2017. That encampment went up without official permission, and the city deemed it unsafe.

Then last fall, the City Council granted The Village the 23rd Avenue site for an encampment. But Village lead organizer Anita De Asis, who goes by the name Needa Bee, says that before organizers had arrived, the city dropped scores of homeless people at the site — far more than they could manage.

Since then the numbers at the site have exploded.

“I'm very frustrated,” says Bee, who accuses the city of trying to sabotage their grassroots effort.

The latest blow to The Village came when the city told the group it would have to move again within a year of arriving — because of the bridge construction.

“You're incompetent or you're lying,” Bee says. “And either way, it sucks because what you were supposed to do was vet the land.”

Joe DeVries, the assistant to the city administrator, says he understands why it might look like incompetence or sabotage. But he explains that it's hard to predict the schedule of the Department of Transportation.

"We're trying to solve this homeless crisis together," DeVries says. "We’re all doing it with good intention."

Despite the skepticism, DeVries says the city is actively searching for new sites: One to be managed by The Village and a second for people with higher needs that would be managed by the city.

[Click link to go to complete article on KQED website]

Homeless Cleared Out Of North Oakland Park

Originally published in the East Bay Times June 26, 2018

City crews on Tuesday cleared out homeless camps in Mosswood Park, weeks before the start of a program there for disabled youths.

Assistant City Administrator Joe DeVries, who is in charge of homeless outreach, said the permanent closure of the camps was needed to ensure safety for about 150 disabled youth who will join a program there beginning in July. It and other programs are returning after going on hiatus in 2016 when a two-alarm fire damaged the park’s recreation center.

DeVries cited a large volume of hypodermic needles as one reason the city decided to move out the approximately 20 residents.

At about 9:30 a.m., city public works crews cleaned up garbage and volunteers were on hand to help homeless residents collect their belongings. A handful of the homeless were seen moving to Caltrans property underneath Interstate 580, where another eviction is planned for Thursday, according to a sign posted on one tent.

Homeless advocate Talya Husbands-Hankin, also known as “Bootz,” said even though the city gave a 72-hour notice, several residents were caught off-guard and were not giving alternatives for where to move. She estimated that between 35 to 40 people lived throughout the North Oakland park near Kaiser Hospital, some for up to four years.

[Click to link to complete article]

Public works crews begin clearing out a homeless encampment at Mosswood Park in Oakland, Calif., on as some of the residents continue to pack up their belongings on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. The City of Oakland brought crews in to clear all the homeless encampments out of the park on Tuesday. 

Oakland Evicts Largest Encampment At Northgate; Falsely Promotes Tuff Sheds As A Viable Alternative

Originally published in IndyBay June 25, 2018

[OGS Website note: the creation of the Tuff Shed compounds and the eviction of the residents of the Northgate area street encampment residents are the policies of the administration of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.]

Shortly after the completion of the construction of the second city-sanctioned Tuff Shed compound under the I-980 freeway at Northgate Avenue and 27th Street in April, the city of Oakland began evicting residents from the largest encampments in the surrounding area. Over the course of four days in May and June, the residents of 50-plus tents and shanty structures were forced out.

Oakland work crews break up Northgate area street encampment

It appears the encampments around the sanctioned compounds are cleared of residents to give the outward appearance that one has been replaced with the other. Oakland officials would have the public believe that evicted residents all find a temporary home in the sanctioned compound, but the city greatly oversells the benefits of the sheds and has no comprehensive long-term housing plan. 

The city of Oakland now has two Tuff Shed compounds — surrounded by barbed wire with guards posted at the entrances — the new Northgate compound and the first at Castro and 5th Streets. The compounds, officially called “Outdoor Navigation Centers” by the city, do not provide enough space for everyone who is evicted the encampments surrounding them. Each holds twenty sheds, with one shed purportedly capable of providing temporary shelter for two people, if folks double up, yet the populations of houseless folks in surrounding encampments were much larger than forty people. 

Many encampment residents are not willing to take the risk and make the sacrifices required to move into a Tuff Shed.

[Click to link to complete article]

Can Your Spare Bedroom Help Solve Oakland's Homeless Crisis?

Published by the Mercury News November 22, 2017

For everyone who has ever passed one of this city’s sprawling homeless encampments and wondered how to help, Mayor Libby Schaaf has an answer — open your door to someone in need of shelter.

The Oakland mayor is asking residents to offer their spare rooms, Airbnb units and rental properties to the city’s homeless, a radical proposition that has prompted both cautious optimism and scathing criticism from her constituents. Some landlords worry taking in down-on-their-luck tenants could backfire, and skepticalhomeless advocates say this Band-Aid of a solution doesn’t solve the larger problem. But others, watching Oakland’s homelessness crisis grow to devastating proportions, say now is the time for outside-the-box thinking.

In her annual “State of the City” speechearlier this month, Schaaf challenged Oakland residents to “give up that Airbnb. Fix up that back unit,” and offer the space to people in need.

“I hear so many times every day people ask me, ‘how can I help the homeless?'” Schaaf said in an interview. “And so this is an inspirational example of how already more than 100 landlords are helping.”

Now she wants 100 more.

Oakland homeowners who accept her challenge would partner with local nonprofit Bay Area Community Services to offer permanent, low-cost housing for people transitioning out of homelessness. The potential tenants — residents of BACS’s 137-bed Henry Robinson center — would have jobs or be on government assistance and able to afford rent. Nevertheless, landlords likely would have to rent at a discount. The Henry Robinson center typically places residents in rooms that cost between $300 and $1,400 per month. The market rate for a studio apartment in Oakland is closer to $1,700, according to RentCafe.

The community services organization has quietly matched willing landlords with homeless tenants — with success — for years. The organization already works with about 250 landlords, but needs more, said director of programs Daniel Cooperman. Schaaf’s goal is to add 100 rooms to the group’s inventory in the next year.

“It’s a last-resort idea,” said Oakland homeowner Rebecca Chekouras, 66, “and I think it doesn’t make sense for anyone involved.”

Instead of asking residents to tackle the problem, the city should be stepping up its own efforts to find a more all-encompassing solution, Chekouras said. After living near a sprawling homeless encampment at the edge of Jack London Square, where neighbors have had their bicycles stolen, windows smashed and homes broken into, she said she’d be afraid to open her door to a homeless tenant.

[Click on link to go to complete article]

Schaaf's Homeless Plan Challenged: Is Her 17K Plan Pie In The Sky?

Published by the Oakland Post October 20, 2017

As homelessness continues to surge in Oakland, pressure is increasing on the city and the mayor to address the crisis in deeds as well as words. A few days ago, Mayor Libby Schaaf was challenged by James Vann of the Homeless Action Group when she emailed an open letter to the public saying she is passionate about dealing with homelessness and the lack of affordable housing.

The letter, distributed on Oct. 12, was headlined with her photograph and a quote: “We need all hands on deck to end homelessness and fight this affordability crisis.”

“This is the issue that keeps me up at night,” she wrote. “We have an immediate plan, as well as a long-term strategy.”

Responding to the mayor, Vann sent out an email the same day. “Mayor Schaaf loves to present positive upbeat messages. However, public pronouncements do not always align with the facts on the ground,” he said.

“The city’s commitment to solving the homeless problem is sadly lacking.”

A local survey of homelessness, conducted in January, found that Oakland’s homeless population grew by 25 percent in the past two years, officially at 2,761 people living in encampments or in shelters and transitional housing.

Countywide, the homeless population has increased 39 percent since 2015 – from 4,040 to 5,629.  Nearly 70 percent of the homeless in the county were living in vehicles or on the streets.

[Click on link to go to complete article]







Front Page

Why An "Oakland's Getting Schaafted" Website

In The News

Our Thoughts On The Libby Schaaf Administration

What Others Are Thinking And Saying—Opinion Pieces About The Schaaf Administration

The Trashing Of Oakland

Schaaf And Oakland's Homeless Crisis

Homeless Encampment Eviction At Lake Merritt Thwarted By Protesters
Oakland North
October 27, 2018

After Scathing UN Report Calling Homeless Conditions 'Cruel And Inhuman,' Activists Demand Oakland Stop Street Removals
October 26, 2018

Oakland Activists Protest 'Cruel And Inhuman' Treatment Of Homeless After Scathing UN Report
Mercury News
October 24, 2018

UN Report Singles Out Homeless Conditions In Oakland, San Francisco As 'Cruel And Inhumane'
October 24, 2018

How We Get Misled
Oakland's Getting Schaafted
October 23, 2018

Libby Schaaf's Homeless Plan
Oakland's Getting Schaafted
October 17, 2018

Oakland's $9 Million Homeless Solution; City Launches New Preventive Program
Mercury News
October 15, 2018

Oakland Eyes Use Of CalTrans Property To Expand Tuff Shed Program
Oakland North
October 7, 2018

Oakland To Clear Lake Merritt Homeless Camps, Open New Tuff Shed Units
San Francisco Chronicle
October 2, 2018

Oakland And Berkeley Homeless Sweeps May Be Unconstitutional
East Bay Express
September 26, 2018

Opinion: Homeless Advocates Criticize Mayor's Tuff Sheds
Oakland Post
September 23, 2018

Oakland Mayor Schaaf Gets OK To Put Shed Camp Outside Kaiser Auditorium
San Francisco Chronicle
September 19, 2018

Residents Report Being Evicted From Tuff Shed Camp
East Bay Express
September 18, 2018

Oakland Has Sheds For Lake Merritt Homeless, But Most Famous Isn't Interested
San Francisco Chronicle
September 17, 2018

City of Oakland Plans To Ban Homeless From Camping Around Lake Merritt
East Bay Express
September 10, 2018

Reflections On A Visit To Tuff Sheds Site
Shelter Oak
September 9, 2018

Local Faith Community Offers Safe Spaces For Homeless, Hoping For Mayor's Support
Oakland Post
August 31, 2018

Oakland Searches To Find New Home For Homeless "Village"
July 24, 2018

Homeless Cleared Out Of North Oakland Park
East Bay Times
June 26, 2018

Oakland Evicts Largest Encampment At Northgate; Falsely Promotes Tuff Sheds As A Viable Alternative
June 25, 2018

Can Your Spare Bedroom Help Solve Oakland's Homeless Crisis?
Mercury News
November 21, 2017

Schaaf's Homeless Plan Challenged: Is Her 17K Plan Pie In The Sky?
Oakland Post
October 20, 2017