OAKLAND — The $9 million homelessness prevention program Oakland launched last year has succeeded in keeping nearly 500 families off the streets so far, a city spokeswoman said Tuesday.
In introducing the bill, Skinner said she wanted to replicate the success of Keeping Oakland Housed, according to the press release. Founded Oct. 15, Keeping Oakland Housed partners with Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, and the East Bay Community Law Center to provide legal representation and financial assistance to Oakland residents.
The residents took that to mean that the city would not be moving forward with the closure until the meeting, and that there would be negotiation between the city and the residents regarding whether they could stay at the site. They were shocked when crews and police showed up Thursday afternoon to kick them out. “It’s a flat-out betrayal,” said Osha Neumann of the East Bay Community Law Center.
In the view of Frank Martin, deputy director of the East Bay Community Law Center, the legal services offered by Keep Oakland Housed will give pause to property managers looking to evict tenants as a ploy to boost rent.“Generally speaking, 90 percent of landlords have lawyers and 90 percent of tenants do not,” he says. “That makes for an imbalance and leads to people losing their cases even when they have legitimate reasons for why they couldn’t pay their rent. Having lawyers who will negotiate settlements with landlords or who show up in court with tenants levels the playing field.”
“The real problem is there’s no place for people to go. Caltrans has to come to grips with this,” said Osha Neumann, an attorney for the East Bay Community Law Center. “They have to deal with this in a rational way, just like they do with earthquakes. This is a man-made disaster.”
But Osha Neumann, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, responded that “to regulate objects is a surrogate to regulating people.” Neumann added that he believes the “impetus for this is the new BART Access Corridor.”
“I go from a block where there are tents lining the sidewalk, to a block where there are Teslas and Mercedes lining the sidewalk,” said Osha Neumann, a staff attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center. “It’s almost like we’re dividing into two species. And it’s increasingly difficult for people to move from the streets, from the bottom, anywhere up away from there.”
Residents and allies of the vehicular community at the Berkeley Marina held a press conference Monday to demand access to basic needs facilities and call for an end to the city’s order to move or risk losing their homes. Several speakers gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center about 12:30 p.m., including City Councilmember Cheryl Davila and Osha Neumann, a supervising attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center, according to Yesica Prado, a Berkeley Marina vehicular resident.
“The situation they’re up against is that Berkeley has essentially made it illegal to live in a vehicle anywhere within the city limits,” said Osha Neumann, with the East Bay Community Law Center.
Benjamin Blake, chief clinical strategy officer for BACS, said the organization has many people who are “rental ready” in Oakland, but there aren’t apartments available. East Bay Community Law Center supervising attorney Osha Neumann agreed that the limiting factor is a lack of affordable subsidized housing in Berkeley and Oakland.