Help Elena "Lucky" Ruiz Immigrate to Germany

Dear Friends,

As you most likely remember, on July 23rd, 2020 my roommates and I dropped a Gofundme to transform what was formerly known as Huffin to The Open Space Society. At the time of the Gofundme, we couldn’t be transparent about the legalities of our housing situation, but now that our plans have made a hard left, I’d like to update you on the specifics of our past couple of months.  

To reinstate: Huffin is a live / work space in East Oakland that accommodates upstairs residents as well as downstairs art studio inhabitants. When our Gofundme went live, us upstairs tenants were in the process of moving out an abuser / assaulter who had been a primary leaseholder for the past 15 years. His enabler, who happened to be the secondary leaseholder, decided to move out upon the decision to remove the abuser from the premises. We planned on adding two communaly trusted tenants on the lease and asked the secondary leaseholder to hold off on sending emails to the landlords, until we had our ducks in a row. 

During the chaos of getting the two leaseholders out, us remaining tenants sent countless emails to the landlords describing the years of abuse Huffin residents had suffered, as well as our plans to responsibly take over the lease. After weeks of secret communication with the landlords, the secondary leaseholder aided in slandering our persons and jeopardizing our housing, leaving the remaining tenants ignored. 

Eventually, the landlords reached out via a fake legal document stating that the lease was terminated on July 31st (when the two primary leaseholders left) making us trespassers. Having been repetitively threatened, three of us: Nai, Leo, and myself decided to move out of Huffin together. We applied diligently, collecting references and paying fees, only to be scammed, rejected, or never contacted by properties. Although we still had a large portion of the funds, financial literacy was the main reason we were rejected, leaving us no other option than to stay at Huffin. 

We are incredibly grateful that each of our communities helped us reach our original goal of $16,000! The money we gathered did help reimburse housemates for large renovations, sustain rent for tenants, and support the Black trans folks in the house. We truly wish the Open Space Society could have been a physical space, but it will continue to live on in digital realms. However, we are sustaining hope and solidifying (individually) new plans for ourselves! 

Because of this complicated and heartbreaking situation, I have decided to expedite my post graduation plan to move to Berlin. If you know me, you know that I spent the first 6 months of 2019 living and studying in Berlin. To my surprise, it was the first time I felt safe. Safety for me looked like: affordable health care, housing security, access to affordable health foods, safety when walking alone, and not questioning my impending death every time I stepped out the door. Although Germany is not a perfect place, being able to sustain all of my needs was a first in my life, and something I have not been able to do in the same capacity in America. 

On March 15, 2020 I was laid off from my hostess job in New York and made the decision to move back home to California (leaving me to pay two rents). Since March, I have been rejected unemployment and have been living off of my savings and mutual aid from my community. This does not mean I have not been working, in fact quite the opposite. Over the duration of my unemployment I have started an education organization, The Open Space Society, as well as participated in grassroots organizations with peers. Although OSS is currently working with an academic institution as diversity coaches, we all know educators are underpaid. Which is not to mention that I am also a senior at Pratt Institute, taking a full 17 credits until May, 2021. 

This move is not a fun escape from the U.S., but an attempt at survival. I am humbly asking for your help in funding my student language visa and the year long expenses for the Speakeasy  super intensive German classes that will allow me to obtain said visa. I have broken down the costs I will need for this move:

Speakeasy 12 month Super Intensive Class: € 3,090 = $ 3,656.49

Speakeasy Visa Letter Fee: € 50 = $ 59.16

Financial Resources for Visa Acceptance: € 10,236 = $ 12,092.36

Plane Ticket For the Month of February: $800 - 1,000

I will also need to fly from New York in order to gather my items from storage:

Plane Ticket to New York for the Month of January: $100.00

Storage Item Retrieval From MakeSpace: $ 60.00

My final goal is $17,000.00 USD, but my Gofundme goal states $25,000 because of the significant amount Gofundme takes for themselves. I want to be as transparent as possible about where your funds are going, so I will be posting ALL receipts / documents that pertain to the financial aspects of my move as proof! As for the money from the prior Gofundme, that will continue to go towards supporting the Black trans folks in Huffin, hence the launch of my personal Gofundme. 

Your contribution means the world to me! With the complications of COVID-19, acquiring a visa helps ensure my entry into Germany. I plan on arriving by late January / early February, 2021 so whatever you can lend now is a huge help.  

With Love,



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Elena Ruiz 
Oakland, CA

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