Here in Oakland, at least 1500 hotel rooms are sitting empty while COVID-19 infections are starting to spread through curbside communities - where folks are forced to share the few portapotties and handwashing stations that volunteers have been able to install. And this outbreak will not be contained in encampments, as unhoused folks do not live in a vacuum. Yet, the City of Oakland continues to make the same lame excuse that they’ve been peddling for months: They don’t know how to run a “full service program”. But unhoused folks don’t want to be programmed: “Just give us a bed and private bathroom. When we can rest and stay clean, we can take care of our lives just fine by ourselves.”
So The Village of Oakland, East Oakland Collective, and Love and Justice in the Streets have launched a program following this principle of self-determination: With community funding we have moved 31 Black elders, veterans, families with children, and particularly immune vulnerable folks into hotel rooms across Oakland. These new hotel communities can now safely receive the same services that our volunteers deliver to curbside communities: hot meals donated by restaurants, grocery bags from the food bank, personal hygiene supplies, visits by volunteer medical professionals, unhoused service providers, and advocates who support self-organization.
To continue and extend this program, all we need is to pay the hotel bill: It takes $700 to immediately shelter a couple or family for a week. And while your elected officials fail to enact this simple public health measure, that means we need your donations: If you can comfortably survive without your stimulus check or parts of your continuing income, then you can make an invaluable contribution to our collective health by helping us pay the bill to shelter folks who may not survive without a roof over their head!
We need everyone sheltered in place - this is how we survive this crisis - together. So, protect your own health today by funding a hotel room for an unhoused neighbor!
- Amanda Bartenstein
- Emma D'Esopo
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