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Homeless ‘Streets Team’ Starts Trash Clean-up in North Richmond

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On Tuesday, June 16,  the Shields Reid Neighborhood Council, Davis Chapel CME Church and Robert Rogers of Supervisor John Gioia’s office invited a homeless “Streets Team” to begin trash cleanup and organizing of the homeless encampment in North Richmond.

Facilitated by Safe Organized Spaces (SOS!) in Richmond, the SOS! Streets Team employs unsheltered individuals to respond to homelessness at parks, freeways, train tracks, creeks and neighborhood streets impacted by dumping and encampments throughout West Contra Costa County.

The team conducts neighborhood outreach with debris removal, sanitation and hygiene interventions, and community-building processes that lead to improved encampment conditions where unsheltered individuals reside and are supported to shelter-in-place.

The effort started in Central Richmond and now expands across West County.

Each worker is paid a decent wage of $15 per hour for 12 hours or more per week. As the Streets Team builds its personnel – now eight unsheltered individuals – they rely on the support of community members to help meet the challenge of reaching all key encampments where people struggle to shelter themselves and find basic amenities.

While neighborhood beautification is an immediate benefit, the goals of the team’s work are to improve relationships between housed and unsheltered neighbors and to help everyone to recognize how solutions are possible to improve the problems associated with homelessness in our neighborhoods.

The Streets Team is facilitated by SOS!, a community-driven network. The projects of SOS! are fiscally sponsored by TentMakers and Richmond Friends of Recreation. Concerned Richmond community members and agencies continue to join the SOS! network so that housed and unsheltered neighbors may come together and bring about personal, neighborhood and institutional changes. Through the process of integrating encampments and their residents with public agencies, civic groups, neighbors and businesses, SOS! plans to make substantive changes in our responses to homelessness.

The Streets Team has partnered with City and County agencies to place toilet and handwashing portables in key encampment locations. Encampment residents will secure the portable stations and determine responsibilities for sanitation and hygiene. In partnership with Collaborising, a nonprofit that is dedicated to improving race equity and building cross-cultural relationships, the project works with unsheltered leaders in a train-the-trainer process to establish equitable ways to govern the encampments and support safe living conditions.

The Streets Team also distributes food, PPE, hand sanitizer, trash bags and basic amenities to support health hygiene, self-screening and sanitation. It works with Davis Chapel CME Church to provide face masks, gloves, food and water at these encampments. Some 175 lunches are delivered each weekday to encampments through Ephesians of Richmond Church of God in Christ and West Contra County Unified School District.

Richmond is at a critical moment regarding homelessness. Shelters and Warming Centers are closed for adults. The most vulnerable to COVID-19 have been temporarily sheltered in hotels.

Homelessness in Richmond is expected to increase substantially in the coming months as many renters will be unable to pay overdue rents. Temporary hotel stays will end later this year, releasing people back to the streets. Key to increasing Richmond’s capacity to provide interim sheltering before winter includes finding locations to host temporary, managed transitional villages.

Before the pandemic and economic recession, homelessness in Contra Costa County had increased by 43% in two years with more than 1,000 people living outdoors. County Health Services is seeing an alarming increase in the number of homeless seniors in their 70s and 80s. The need is urgent for safe spaces for homeless individuals who are unsheltered and without the resources to pay for housing.

Contributions to the SOS! Streets Team can be made at Venmo: SOS_Richmond. To join the SOS! network to make changes in response to homelessness, call Daniel Barth at 510-990-2686.

Join the Streets Team by showing up with gloves and wearing a mask to contribute to the North Richmond Community Cleanup on Saturday, June 27, 2020 from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Meet the team at the end of Castro Street near Fred Jackson Way.

Commentary

City Government: Please Do No (More) Harm

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

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First in a Series on Jobs in Oakland

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

City administration professes concern for its residents who need help with access to jobs and training, while at the same time failing to issue contracts to the community organizations that stand ready to provide needed services.

The city council approved these contracts in June. As of late September, they have not been issued by the city administration.

Q: What does this mean? A: Non-profit organizations, operating on shoestring budgets in the best of times, have been required to advance their own funds in July, August, and September to serve the unemployed, with no reimbursement by the city because as the administration says, “Your contract has not been signed yet.”

Another impact: the workers who provide front line job services may not receive their paychecks on time…. creating unnecessary instability in their own households.

And who is responsible for issuing these contracts? Yup…it’s the city…. painfully tone deaf to the needs of the community, particularly those on the economic margins. Most of those served with job help are Black and Latinx residents who consistently suffer double digit unemployment. Many are returning home after incarceration.

And for this level of harmful disregard, the city receives  28 percent of scarce job training funds. Astonishing, since the city provides no direct services to job seekers.

As Oakland struggles with its horrific crime wave, it seems that attention would be paid to root causes, joblessness being paramount among them. Instead, the city administration seems intent on hobbling the very groups who stand ready to help. This happens year after year…. with no apparent consequences to an impenetrable bureaucracy.

Oakland, we can do  better than this.

We must.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

‘A Way Out of No Way:’ EP Honors Black Shipyard Workers

Youth from Marin City created a musical tribute to Black workers from the Marinship Shipyard called “The Marinovators – A Way Out of No Way.”

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Top left to right: Jaliyah Cook, Sarah Williams, Dominiq Austin, Camron McDonald, Raymone Reed, and Tayana Bland. Bottom left to right: Brenda Lara, Bella Lucky, Mykolas Vilatis, Jahi, Mason Le, and Briana Zuniga. Rohan Ayyar is not shown.

Youth from Marin City created a musical tribute to Black workers from the Marinship Shipyard called “The Marinovators – A Way Out of No Way.”

The Marinovators are a group of young people from Marin City and other parts of the Bay Area who came together to lift up the lost stories of Black workers at the Marinship shipyard in Sausalito during World War II, according to their press release.  They created a six-song extended play record (EP) titled “The Marinovators /A Way Out of No Way,” which also featured songs like “Wonder Women Workers” and “Equality” in a “Hamilton-ish” hip-hop style. 

The songs from the EP highlighted Ms. Annie Small, Ms. Rodessa Battle, Rev. Leon Samuels, and Joseph James. Joseph James was instrumental in changing the laws of the union at the Marinship shipyard by going to the Supreme Court with the help of Thurgood Marshall in 1944.

The project will also feature a Virtual Reality experience to be released in October 2021. Oakland-based artist Jahi co-wrote and arranged the EP.  Chris Jeffries engineered, recorded and mixed it at The Marinovation Center in Novato. It was produced by Configa for Configaration Records.

Collaborators include XR LostStories, Performing Stars of Marin, California State Library’s CREi Initiative, The Marin County Free Library, Marin Office of Education, Microphone Mechanics, John MacLeod, Felecia Gaston of  Marin Performing Stars, Anita Gail Jones, Leslie Pelle, and Tim Bartolf.

The sponsors include the Milagro Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, and the Marin County Office of Education.

The EP was released on Sept. 4, 2021 and is available now for streaming on Spotify and iTunes. To listen to the “A Way Out of No Way” video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyQdXEpRQuA

 

The Marin County Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Art

Healing Through Art at West Oakland’s Alena Museum

The Alena Museum is a Black-led, 501(c) 3 non-profit that provides services in health and wellness through experience installations, Black sanctuary gardens, community space access, and an Art Residency (mentorship).

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The Alena Museum/Photo Courtesy of Alena Museum Facebook

Development has come at the cost of Black health, land ownership and belonging.

The Alena Museum in Oakland gives African American residents a way to heal through the medium of art “by providing critical, safe spaces for the African diaspora the Black community can express and cultivate their cultural identity in the face of gentrification. 

The Alena Museum is a Black-led, 501(c) 3 non-profit that provides services in health and wellness through experience installations, Black sanctuary gardens, community space access, and an Art Residency (mentorship).

Through the group’s public art activism, they teach cultural preservation and cultivation with an Afrofuturism ownership model to promote cultural equity with the goal to reclaim urban landscape and gain creative control in real estate development. Through restorative justice art, the Alena Museum educates the community on urban planning; how it works and how to become involved. 

The Alena Museum’s most recent project, “Magnolia Street” began in March of 2020. According to the website, “Magnolia Street is an experiential installation following Alena Museum’s land libration journey. From holding space for African Diaspora creatives, to confronting gentrification in practice, the story of Magnolia Street channels the spirit of Oakland’s Black Resistance movement into the present through Alena Museum’s eyes. Our story roots Black Power into any land we activate, including this one.”

The Alena Museum was evicted from their 8th Street site in West Oakland and is now located at 2725 Magnolia St, Oakland, CA 94607. 

If you would like to reach out to the Alena Museum you can email them at info@alenamuseum.org. To check out the latest, visit them on Instagram and Facebook. If you would like to support their vision, visit the support page.

Information in this article was sourced from the Alena Museum website. 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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