OAKLAND, CA — It was high noon on September 11, 2018, a day on which people remembered the sudden violence of airliner attacks on the U.S. It was also a day when Mr. Nino Parker organized a gathering of 100 people to address the creeping violence caused by the crisis of housing insecurity and homelessness. Mr. Parker spoke of the misery and compassion that he and many others have experienced. He had several proposals to make life better for those experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.
Mr. Parker is a homeless leader in the fight against Housing Insecurity and Homelessness in Oakland and founder of the Green Team of homeless people who maintain the cleanliness of homeless encampments. In this era of gentrification many held signs letting people know the agony of homelessness and housing insecurity in Oakland. Speakers included Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan, Ethel Long-Scott, Executive Director of the Women’s Economic Agenda Project (WEAP) and a representative of the Poor Peoples Campaign, Cat Brooks, candidate for mayor of Oakland, and Nikki Fortunatao Bas, candidate for Oakland’s City Council.
This was an important gathering to address housing issues and the moral deficit which plagues Oakland as it does other cities throughout the country. Each day new luxury high-rise apartments and condominiums go up while the number of homeless and those experiencing housing insecurity increases. When the housing crisis began in the era of gentrification, Oakland officials sought to ignore or neglect the growing housing crisis and when the tent encampments began to arise, the City did the minimum regarding infrastructure to support more and more people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness. According to a KQED California Report in May, 2017, Alameda County’s Homeless Population Climbed Dramatically Over Two Years, www.kqed.org/news/11477036/alameda-countys-homeless-population-climbs-dramatically-over-two-years, a majority living in Oakland.
Nino Parker said the homeless need access to housing, “Need to make more housing. A lot of housing sitting unused.”
City Council member Rebecca Kaplan said there are “5000 abandoned buildings which have been identified to house the homeless.”
“Housing Insecurity is at an all time high, it is at the top of the list,” said Ethel Long-Scott. “Gentrification & displacement in Oakland like other major cities is spreading a cloud of doom over once stable communities. Small homeowners can’t afford the ever-increasing taxes, and renters are driven out by impossible to pay rent increases. There is a cry across the state of California that RENTS are too damn high. Public housing is simply disappearing. Nationally, is it any wonder that homelessness is now estimated to be in the millions?”
The lack of response to the housing crisis is an example of Oakland’s neglect and a moral deficit regarding the housing of its citizens. Mr. Parker’s Gathering was a necessary response by those impacted by the housing crisis in Oakland.