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Moms 4 Housing Hosts International Solidarity Event

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Dominique Walker (front left) and Carroll Fife (front right) of Moms 4 Housing stand with Tur-ha Ak (top left) of Community Ready Corps and Fred Hampton Jr (top right) outside of the Magnolia home that Walker and other homeless and housing insecure Oakland moms occupied for 57 days. Photo courtesy of Dave ID / Indybay.org

Oakland’s Moms 4 Housing hosted an international online solidarity event called “Reclaim Homes from the US to the UK” with representatives from the Focus E15 Campaign in London. It took place on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. in Oakland and 6:00  p.m. in England.

“This meeting comes at the time of the great coronavirus emergency, but for many, the emergency was already here, especially for homeless men, women and children who are across the globe. At the same time we know there are many homes and buildings which lie empty,” said Focus E15 member Saskia O’Hara from London at the event.

Both Moms 4 Housing and Focus E15 are housing justice groups that are calling for all people to be housed who wish to be. They have highlighted the fact that housing units remain empty in their communities while people who could live in those empty units remain unhoused.

“There isn’t a housing crisis, there is a profiteering crisis, there is a capitalism crisis, there is a moral crisis that’s allowing this to happen,” said Moms 4 Housing member Dominique Walker.

Both groups have relied on direct action to seek and achieve their goals, prioritizing occupations and protests over negotiations with politicians and owners of vacant housing units. The groups introduced themselves to each other and the over 160 people who attended the meeting and talked about some of the work they have done.

“Focus E15 is a direct action campaign that was formed in September 2013 when a group of young mothers was served eviction notices while living in Focus E15, a hostel for young homeless people. That’s how the campaign got its name,” said Carolina Talaver, a doctoral anthropology candidate at U.C. Berkeley who lived in London, studied the group, and has become an active member.

Talaver explained that the young mothers and their supporters became organized because, after the eviction, the local government told them that “because of cuts to housing, welfare support, and the lack of affordable housing in London, they would have to accept private rented accommodation in different parts of the country if they wanted to be rehoused…these young moms got really organized and they started fighting back,” said Talaver.

On the one-year anniversary of Focus E15’s formation, the group occupied a social housing complex called the Carpenter’s Estate in Stratford East London, which was owned by the local government but left vacant. Focus E15 opened the estate to the public for two weeks as a social center.

“They raised awareness that this estate, which was in good condition and continues to be in perfectly good condition, sat empty. While London’s most in-need and marginalized were being forced out of the city due to lack of affordable housing, the Carpenter’s Estate was empty,” said Talaver.

Focus E15’s occupation and the circumstances it arose has similarities to an action that sparked Moms 4 Housing. Beginning on Nov 18 2019 and ending on Jan 14 of this year, when the county sheriff’s department evicted them, homeless moms who were members of Moms 4 Housing occupied a home on Magnolia Street in West Oakland that a corporation named Wedgewood owned but had left vacant. Wedgewood owns at least 125 properties in the Bay Area.

“We moved into this house to bring awareness to the crisis in our city, which is speculation. Corporations have come into our community…and pushed folks out,” said Walker of Moms 4 Housing.

After hosting rallies and events that regularly attracted more than 100 supporters during their occupation, securing vocal support from Oakland City Council members Rebecca Kaplan and Nikki Fortunato Bas as well as Gov. Gavin Newsom, Wedgwood agreed to sell the home to the mothers through the Oakland Community Land Trust. Wedgwood and the Oakland Community Land Trust are currently in negotiations to get the moms back into the home.

When both groups had finished speaking of their separate struggles and actions, the event, which lasted two hours, hosted a discussion and a Q & A. Those who participated were from Oakland and Sacramento Ca., Portland, Ore., London and Lisbon in Portugal.

“This is only the beginning. We really welcome everyone from around the world,” said O’Hara of Focus E15.

Focus E15 and Moms 4 Housing plan to host another meeting again together.

Bay Area

Women’s Cancer Resource Center Celebrates 35th Anniversary

Founded in 1986, WCRC’s mission has been to improve the quality of life for women with cancer and advance equity in cancer support, especially for low-income persons, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Nearly 80% of WCRC’s clients live below the federal poverty level, and 70% of them identify as people of color.

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The Bay Area is full of “best-kept secrets.” The Women’s Cancer Resource Center is one of them. Tucked away in an unassuming building in a residential neighborhood in Berkeley, the Center serves more than 2,000 people with cancer and their loved ones every year.

They’ve been doing this for three and a half decades.

The Women’s Cancer Resource Center is celebrating its 35thanniversary at an online event on May 13. Visit www.wcrc.org/unite for more information and to register. If you or a loved one is facing cancer, please reach out to WCRC for assistance. 510-601-4040, www.wcrc.org or info@wcrc.org.

Founded in 1986, WCRC’s mission has been to improve the quality of life for women with cancer and advance equity in cancer support, especially for low-income persons, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Nearly 80% of WCRC’s clients live below the federal poverty level, and 70% of them identify as people of color.

WCRC staff have long observed that cancer often is not the greatest concern for the low-income and marginalized individuals in its client population. Limited access to primary health care, inadequate health services and financial resources, language and cultural barriers, racism, low literacy, fear, and mistrust of medical systems contribute to late diagnosis and earlier death, especially for African American, Latinx, and all other groups of low-income women diagnosed with cancer.

WCRC provides a set of comprehensive, coordinated services to mitigate these problems for people with limited access to essential, life-giving care. Free services include psychotherapy, support groups, art and wellness classes, community-based cancer patient navigation, and information and referral to community resources. These services increase adherence to cancer treatment and advance self-empowerment and care, improving quality of life and treatment outcomes.

But most of all, WCRC provides a place of refuge. Anyone who comes through the Center’s doors will feel safe, connected, and seen. The Center was able to extend this feeling of community even during the pandemic, transitioning its direct services to phone and Zoom.

One client for whom WCRC has made a huge difference is Ms. Arenoso.

She couldn’t trust anyone. Ms. Arenoso has been on her own since the age of sixteen. The trauma of her early life and experience of homelessness made it hard to trust others and feel safe.

She learned that self-reliance isn’t always the answer. In 2019, Ms. Arenoso was diagnosed with cancer. A few months into her treatment, which affected her ability to think clearly, she realized that she needed to be around other people who had cancer, andshe was referred to WCRC.

She was able to start to relax and receive support. Ms. Arenoso felt an instant connection with WCRC staff, who took the time to get to know her and tailor WCRC’s services to her needs. Her navigator helped her fill out housing and financial support paperwork and apply for emergency funding, which granted her enough money to cover three months of rent. WCRC also provides her with practical and emotional support, which she especially appreciates during the pandemic.

She found a home away from home, where she could truly be herself. Describing a visit to WCRC last year, Ms. Arenoso observed, “Your center was welcoming and beautiful. Everyone was so kind, and no one was rude. I felt that they loved me for me.”

As her heart healed, she was inspired to practice generosity. Ms. Arenoso wants to give back. “I used to be very angry,” she said. “WCRC helped me become more kind and compassionate.” She now collects toiletries to provide to people who are homeless and shares cancer resources with her neighbors to ensure that people understand the importance of cancer screenings. “I don’t know what I would have done without WCRC,” she said.

If you or a loved one is facing cancer, please reach out to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center for assistance. 510-601-4040, www.wcrc.org or info@wcrc.org.

 

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Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

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 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

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Bay Area

Most Californians Worry Schools Won’t Reopen Fully Next Fall, Poll Says

The majority say they approve of how Newsom handled schools this year.

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More than 4 in 5 California adults, including public school parents, believe that the pandemic has caused children, especially low-income children and English learners, to fall behind academically.

  Six in 10 Californians are concerned that schools will not be open for full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released on April 28.

  The annual survey of Californians’ perspectives on education also found that a majority approved of the way Gov. Gavin Newsom has handled K-12 public schools, although opinions were split along partisan lines, with 22% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats supporting him on the issue.

  And perhaps in an indication of the erosion of support for public schools, 42% of parents say they would send their youngest child to a private school if cost and location were not at issue. This compares with 31% who would choose a traditional public school, 14% a charter school, and 13% a religious school. The preference for a private school increased from 35% last year and 31% two years ago.

  The survey of 1,602 adults over 18 was taken from April 1-14 and was offered in English or a choice of Spanish and three other languages. The margin of error was 3.4%, plus or minus, overall, and 7.4%, plus or minus, for the 295 respondents who are public school parents.

  Facing a recall election, Newsom can take solace in the poll’s finding that a majority of Californians (57% of adults, 64% of public-school parents) approve of how he has handled K-12 education.

  “Majorities of Californians approve of the way that Governor Newsom is handling the state’s K-12 public schools and school reopening, while they remain deeply divided along party lines,” said Mark Baldassare, president, and CEO of PPIC.

  However, a year ago, when the last survey was taken weeks after schools closed quickly in response to the first throes of the pandemic, his approval marks were higher, with 73% of adults and 78% of public school parents expressing approval.

  The poll, which focused on education, also found:

  Of those who said children were falling behind academically during the pandemic, 60% said that was happening by a lot and 22% by a little. The views were similar among ethnic and racial groups. Eight in 10 adults said they were concerned that low-income children were falling farther behind other children. More Blacks and Latinos were very concerned about this than whites;

  Amid continuing debates and lawsuits claiming that schools aren’t opening quickly enough, slightly more adults overall than public school parents said that schools should at least be partially open now (53% vs. 48%), while 28% of all adults and 27% of public school parents said that schools should be fully open now;

  Looking ahead to the fall, 61% of all adults said they were concerned that K-12 schools would not be open for full-time in-person instruction (24% very concerned, 37% somewhat concerned), and two-thirds of public school parents said they were concerned (25% very concerned, 41% somewhat concerned).

  When it comes to their own schools, two-thirds of adults said they approved of how their school district handled closures during the pandemic. Support was highest in the Los Angeles area (74%) and the Inland Empire (68%) and lowest in Orange County and San Diego (54%). Approval among public school parents was 72%.

  The clear majority of all adults said that teachers’ salaries in their communities are too low. About 1 in 3 said salaries are just about right while 7% said they are too high, and 3% said they didn’t know. Among racial and ethnic groups, 76% of Blacks said pay is too low, compared with 59% of whites, 61% of Asian Americans, and 62% of Latinos.

  Last month, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that California school districts could substitute local assessments for the state standardized test, the Smarter Balanced assessment, under some conditions. Many districts are expected to exercise that option.

  Asked whether they favor conducting year-end state testing this spring to measure the pandemic’s impact on student learning, 75% of all adults (and a similar proportion of public school parents) said they were in favor of continuing testing, with 23% opposed. Latinos were the most in favor (83%) and Blacks the least supportive (68%) with 70% of Asian Americans and whites in favor of continuing year-end testing.

  As for the perennial issue of school funding, 49% of all adults, 53% of likely voters, and 51% of public school parents said that the current level of state funding for their local public schools is not adequate — about the same level as a year ago.

  When it comes to school construction and renovation, 59% of all adults, 55% of likely voters, and 74% of public school parents said they would vote yes on a state bond measure to pay for school construction projects. Legislative leaders plan to place a bond on the state ballot in 2022.

 

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