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Report: How to House Oakland’s Unhoused Within Six Months

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The following is the third part of a series profiling the new report from the Dellums Institute/Just Cities for the Housing and Dignity Project led by The Village and East Oakland Collective, Housing Oakland’s Unhoused, focuses on what we’ve all been waiting for—solutions to Oakland’s new homelessness crisis.
The Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report very powerfully establishes that the traditional approach to homelessness does not address today’s realities where the majority of the homeless only need housing, rather than intensive services, and the costs and time needed to build multi-family housing is insufficient. Instead, the report offers innovative solutions that would result in providing safe, dignified, and affordable housing to over 2,000 people within 6 months, IF the political will in City Hall and the County exists.
Perhaps the innovativeness of the solutions comes from the fact that the Dellums Institute and the Goldman School for Public Policy partnered with unhoused people and activists from The Village and the East Oakland Collective.
This authentic participatory research model relied directly on the voices, experiences, and brilliant ideas from the people most impacted by the housing crisis. Different from most government community “input” sessions, the research findings and final recommendations were then vetted and approved by the same unhoused people and activists.
The report’s Short Term Solutions are implementable within 6 to 12 months. They include low cost and immediate housing building models such as tiny, mobile, or container homes which cost between $7,500 to $35,000 to build, including infrastructure costs.
The report states that it would cost around $23 million to immediately build 1,600 new housing units that could provide dignified housing for 2,000 people.
The report identifies specific resources that are currently available to implement this critical plan, including available public land parcels and new monies for homeless housing from the City, County, and State.
Not stopping at short-term solutions, the Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report also lays out Long Term Solutions to build 2,000 units of permanent housing for extremely low income to no income residents.

City workers and police officers evict homeless residents Thursday afternoon from Housing and Dignity Village, an encampment of 13 women and children on city-owned land at Edes and South Elmhurst avenues in East Oakland. Photo by Amir Saadiq.


These longer term solutions include the traditional multi-family housing model that would cost a public subsidy of about $150,000 per unit.
In addition, the report recommends utilizing alternative housing models that are cheaper and faster to build such as container, modular, and prefab homes, which would range from $13,500 to $125,000 of public subsidy per unit.
The report also identifies new funds for implementing these long-term solutions such as the new County Measure A1 funds and the City’s new ballot measures increasing the real estate transfer tax on properties selling for over $2 million championed by Councilmember Dan Kalb and also the new vacant lots tax championed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.
Ultimately, the Dellums Institute’s Housing the Unhoused Report for the Housing and Dignity Project represents a call to action for all of us who care about Oakland.
No longer can we turn away from the growing homeless crisis, throwing up our hands and saying that there’s nothing we can do. There’s plenty of strategic solutions available. All it takes is political and moral leadership.
Let’s exercise our rights in a democratic society and call our elected officials to implement the Housing and Dignity Project’s solutions designed by unhoused people.
See the full report on the Dellums Institute’s website at http://dellumsinstitute.org/community-justice-data/

Community

California Unemployment System Backlogged With Over 200,000 Claims

Many Californians are still waiting for the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to clear their backlog of claims, with the department’s data page showing over 221,000 claims are pending past 21 days as of June 12.

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California EDD

California may be reopening beginning June 15, but for many unemployed workers, the economic struggle caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere near ending.

Many Californians are still waiting for the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to clear their backlog of claims, with the department’s data page showing over 221,000 claims are pending past 21 days as of June 12.

On May 28, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) hosted a press conference featuring constituents from his district who are seeking immediate help from EDD. Three constituents spoke about their struggles while trying to get their unemployment benefits. They experienced extremely long wait times while calling EDD and faced difficulties trying to verify their identity or correct claim amounts with the department.

The difficulties with EDD that the speakers expressed in their stories mirrored complaints the department’s service and call centers have been reporting since the pandemic began last year.

Roneisha Williams, a Gipson constituent, is waiting on an appeal after receiving an incorrect benefit amount. She described her experience communicating with EDD representatives over the phone as “confusing.”

She said that she received conflicting information from the EDD and representatives asked her for a different set of documents each time she called.

“When you call and speak with someone regarding the solution, you’re not given the same information. You can call one representative and they’ll tell you to submit a documentation. You submit that documentation. You call to confirm that it has been received. The other representative will tell you that not only you weren’t supposed to submit that documentation, but really you need to go to this step, and we need to see this documentation.”

Williams also spoke about her difficulties going through the identity verification process with the third-party company ID.me.

EDD launched the ID.me verification process in October 2020 as part of an effort to crack down on fraud. The department also suspended 1.4 million accounts last December and made some claimants verify their identities.

Since then, unemployed Californians directed to ID.me have faced delays and technical issues. Willams also expressed concern for less technologically-savvy claimants who may have to use ID.me.

“Having to contact a third party to qualify for your unemployment benefits is very stressful, especially when they do not have any human contact customer service available. With the ID.me verification, everything is done through your phone. So that in itself is very isolating. I know how to work technology but what about the constituents that aren’t familiar with it. What about the constituents that don’t have a high-powered or accurate camera on their phone to send a copy of their ID?” Williams said.

Roger Lozoya, a pipeline welder who also lives in Gipson’s district, lost his job five months ago and has had no income since. He said his identity was stolen and used to receive EDD benefits. So, when he tried to get benefits, the EDD told him that he owed them money.

Lozoya said, “I’m a welder, and I’m blessed to have a career that I worked hard to get. I pay a lot of taxes and I pay into EDD. The only thing they constantly do to me is call me a liar — that I’m stealing from them. They told me I owe them $69,000. How do I owe $69,000? At the time they were saying that I was claiming it, I was working.”

In the months without income, Lozoya said that he has sold his possessions, including his work truck and tools, to support his family.

During the press conference, Gipson called on the EDD to take measures to get through the claims backlog. He also urged the EDD to extend working hours and keep phone lines open during evenings and weekends.

Gipson also mentioned the state audits of EDD and suggested that implementing the recommendations of the State Auditor would likely help address the backlog.

“We absolutely have to do everything we can to make sure that the people who need this help the most get the help that they’re seeking to put food on the table, clothes their children’s back and also a roof over the head,” said Gipson.

In response to a California Black Media request for comment, EDD Media Services said, “We understand how challenging this pandemic has been for millions of people. Since April 2020, EDD call centers are — and have been open 12 hours a day, seven days a week — which includes evenings and weekends, among many other efforts to continually work to improve the customer experience. EDD offers useful self-help information including a 24-hour self-help line 1-866-333-4606, AskEDD and an online chatbot answering frequently asked questions, a YouTube channel with helpful videos, and many articles on at EDD.ca.gov. The call center can be reached 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week at 1-800-300-5616.“

EDD also shared the actions that the department has taken to improve the customer experience, including, “improving the online help text to clearly explain what is required by the bi-weekly certification questions to help claimants avoid delays, deploying document upload, including a mobile-friendly version, to help claimants save time over mail, launching a new feature that allows a caller to hold their place “in line” when contacting the call center until the EDD calls the claimant back, [and] continuing to monitor customer areas of confusion and trending issues and addressing them with improved public information.”

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Community

Live Learn Grow Foundation Services Vallejo Youth

Each program focuses on community engagement. The Unleashed Skills Center is an educational program where the youth will study new approaches and develop innovative ways to implement them.

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logo from live learn grow facebook page

Live Learn Grow Foundation believes in strongly supporting the development of integrated solutions and delivering reliable tools to those who need them most. Some of the programs they offer are Unleashed Skills Center, Teens on the Go, Lunch Box and more.

Each program focuses on community engagement. The Unleashed Skills Center is an educational program where the youth will study new approaches and develop innovative ways to implement them.

The Teens on The Go program focuses on the transition to adulthood and ensuring the teens have the skills needed to be successful in the future. Lunch Box is an assistance program offered to the low-income families and people who are in need of financial assistance.

To get in contact with the Live Learn Grow Foundation and learn more information about them visit their website at https://www.livelearngrowfoundation.org/ or contact them by phone at 707-438-8274.

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Community

4 Best Life Organization Services Homeless Youth in the Stockton Community

You can visit their website at https://4bestlife.org/ to learn more about the programs and resources. You can also contact them by phone at 209-645-0496 they’re located at 7554 Pacific Avenue #1383 Stockton,Ca 95269

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photo by www.4bestlife.org

4 Best Life Organization mission is to collect and distribute clothing, while also providing hope, help others, inspire children to break the cycle of homelessness by pursuing education and goals. They also offer resources to those in indefinite need and experiencing hardship. 4 Best Life, are actively seeking volunteers in the Stockton area and are always taking donations. You can visit their website at https://4bestlife.org/ to learn more about the programs and resources. You can also contact them by phone at 209-645-0496 they’re located at 7554 Pacific Avenue #1383 Stockton, Ca 95269

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