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Health, Housing, & Public Services News

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While California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered residents to shelter in place because of the COVID-19 virus, local Bay Area law enforcement agencies are continuing to expand their powers and resources. On March 24, the Vallejo City Council voted unanimously to purchase a cell site simulator for the Vallejo Police Department. On Tuesday, March 31, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to vote on a surprise $85 million additional budget allocation for Sheriff Department staff at Santa Rita Jail.
Sun Mar 29 2020 (Updated 04/03/20)
Bay Area Rent Strike
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Tenant and Neighborhood Councils, and other Bay Area folks are producing and sharing information on how to organize a rent strike. They write: We can work together to prevent eviction and foreclosure. We can keep each other housed and fed. We must demand an immediate suspension of rent and mortgage payments for everyone. And if this demand is not met, we must refuse to pay our rents and our mortgages, together.
anonymous writes: As coronavirus spreads and the death toll begins to climb, our most immediate concern is (and should remain) staying healthy and supporting our communities through the immediate crisis. As radicals, however, we must also begin to strategize how we will respond to the economic collapse that will continue to affect our lives long after a vaccine or herd immunity render the virus itself a past issue. Looking back to our local history, we can learn a great deal from Great Depression era worker self-organizing and mutual aid.
While the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates public health measures to reduce the impact of the virus on our communities and health care systems, the National Lawyers Guild urges vigilance and resistance to authoritarian and violent tendencies. Emergency powers often criminalize movement, freedom of expression, protest, and oppressed communities. Even though the state has severely restricted the right to assemble, people still find creative ways to protest.
Demanding action for homeless families at higher risk from coronavirus, homeless and housing insecure families successfully moved into six vacant, state-owned properties in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles on March 14, with scores of community supporters coming out in support. In the next few days, similar families reclaimed more houses, with thirteen providing shelter now. CalTrans owns the houses, and activists estimate that nearly 200 sit vacant.
Sat Mar 21 2020 (Updated 03/26/20)
California on Coronavirus Lockdown
California residents have been ordered to "stay at home" to suppress the spread of COVID-19. Stringent mitigation measures mean millions are without an income. Students face the possibility of going hungry. Curbside communities and incarcerated persons are especially at risk for contracting the virus. The stress and isolation of the pandemic take a toll on mental health. Not waiting for government action, people are stepping up with mutual aid efforts to assist those most in need.
On March 20, Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills and a dozen or more cops and park rangers evicted an encampment of unhoused people along Water Street near the post office. Mills gave people the choice of moving into fenced areas in the city or facing arrest and property confiscation. Robert Norse states, "This 'out of sight / out of town' policy, while claiming a public health rationale, rings false given the lack of protected indoor shelter being offered."
Fri Mar 20 2020 (Updated 03/31/20)
Station 40 on Rent Strike
In the Mission District of San Francisco, Station 40 has served the Bay Area community as an anti-authoritarian collective living and organizing space for nearly two decades. Five years ago, their landlord attempted to evict them, only to be forced to back down by a powerful coordinated solidarity campaign. Now, Station 40 has taken the initiative to respond to the crisis currently playing out across the world, unilaterally declaring a rent strike in response to the economic precarity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thu Mar 12 2020 (Updated 03/22/20)
COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens Most Vulnerable Populations
The World Health Organization officially named COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11. As of that date, over 128,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and 4,717 people have died (updated statistics). Among the most vulnerable are the elderly, the immunocompromised, the prison population, people who are experiencing homelessness, and hospital workers who have a high likelihood of exposure to the contagious virus as they care for the public health.
Tue Mar 10 2020 (Updated 03/11/20)
Celebrating the Life of Mike Zint
Mike Zint, a well-known homeless rights activist, died on February 14 after a lengthy battle with emphysema. Zint was one of the founders of First They Came for the Homeless, a drug and alcohol free homeless camp. He was well-known for his words and campaigns that sought to increase awareness about the issues that homeless individuals face. Zint was instrumental in organizing the Poor Tour, a series of encampments throughout the city of Berkeley. Friends and supporters will gather at Omni Commons in Oakland on March 13 to celebrate Zint's life, share memories and food, and watch footage of this beloved member of our community.
Mon Feb 24 2020 (Updated 02/25/20)
Unhoused Man Pummeled by Fresno Cops
On February 24, a report emerged about officers from Fresno Police Department's Homeless Task Force assaulting a homeless man who they were attempting to evict from an encampment. The brutalization happened in Fresno on February 21 at a homeless encampment near West Avenue and Freeway 180. As David — the homeless person in the photo — was attempting to say "my advocate is on her way," he was thrown to the ground. After the Sargent slammed him to the ground, David was punched and all he could remember was getting hit multiple times and kicked in the head by all four officers.
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