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Oakland Unhoused and Homeless Advocates Town Hall & Speak Out in the Age of Covid19

Thursday, April 09, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Event Type:
Panel Discussion
Village Oakland
Location Details:
Report by Oakland’s Unsheltered — Left to Fend for Themselves


Oakland, CA — On Thursday, April 9th, unsheltered residents and advocates will hold a Town Hall Speak Out organized by The Village, The East Oakland Collective, Punks With Lunch, and Love and Justice in the Streets — Oakland’s four leading unhoused service and advocacy groups. We invite unhoused advocacy organizations and curbside community members to share their observations about conditions on the ground, grassroots solutions, and what is needed from the government.

As officials and essential businesses implement stricter mandated guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, and as most residents hunker down at home to adhere to the shelter-in-place orders, Oakland’s thousands of primarily Black unhoused residents have been left out, at greater risk of illness and death in the midst of this public health disaster. Current government efforts to temporarily house only the ‘highest risk’ or already-sick people have been too slow and are insufficient, and curbside community members and advocates have been taking matters into their own hands.

Homeless residents and housed Black Oaklanders already have higher rates of chronic health conditions, inequity in access to health care and housing, and worse health outcomes, and must be prioritized in an effective and just public response to the pandemic. They face a higher risk of exposure to the virus, mostly on account of concentrating in urban areas and working in essential industries. Only 20% of black workers reported being eligible to work from home, compared with about 30% of their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.


WHAT: Unsheltered residents and advocates speak about conditions on the ground and what they need. There will be a Q and A after the panel.

WHEN: Thursday, April 9, 2020 1:00 - 2:00 PM PST

WHERE:, Dial-in: +1 669 900 XXXX, Meeting ID: XXX XXX XXX

New participants will encounter an online “waiting room’’ for security; please wait to be added to the main meeting by the online hosts. In case this link fails, please check for updates.


— Facilitator: Talya Husbands-Hankin of Love and Justice in the Streets

— Yanna Johnson, Outreach Worker and Advocate with The Village, Unhoused resident.

— Needa Bee, Founder and Organizer of The Village, and Unhoused resident.

— Candice Elder, Founder and Executive Director, East Oakland Collective.

— Ale del Pinal, founder of Punks with Lunch, an organization that provides meals and harm reduction supplies in West Oakland curbside communities.

— Vera Sloan, Community Advocate with curbside/unhoused residents.

— Michelle Bunker-Alberts, Family Nurse Practitioner, Assistant Professor, Touro University Graduate School of Nursing, Founding member of One Love Center for Health, working primarily with un-housed residents in Oakland. Currently works at Highland in the women's and pediatric clinics and inpatient psychiatric hospital providing womens' health care.

— EmilyRose Johns, civil rights attorney defending unhoused individuals in the east bay and member of the National Lawyers Guild.

“Preventing the spread of coronavirus amongst the unhoused is also in the best interest of the housed,” said Needa Bee, founder and organizer with The Village. "Unhoused folks don’t exist in a vacuum. We still go to grocery stores. We still pump gas. As we are seeing played out in tragic ways, the pandemic has exposed the injustice fault lines in our society. The response, or lack of response will make this clear. The Oakland city council did the right thing in passing emergency resolutions, but they fall short. Most unhoused folks don’t have the privilege of washing their hands all day long or self-quarantining.”

"During this pandemic, housing is healthcare,” said Ale del Pinal, founder of Punks with Lunch. “Providing housing will save lives and help prevent our health system from being overwhelmed. Housing plans must include harm reductionist strategies to support people experiencing homelessness who also have substance use."

Use Every Means Possible to Immediately House Oakland's Unsheltered

“It's unconscionable that the nearly 400 hotel rooms that were paid for to house folks are only 15% occupied,” said Talya Husbands-Hankin of Love and Justice in the Streets.

“Like with the big California wildfires, the state needs to commandeer and expand the number of hotel rooms for disaster use, as well as the FEMA trailers, and move all unhoused people indoors immediately,” said Candice Elder, Executive Director of The East Oakland Collective. “The more than 3,000 empty residential units across Oakland also need to be taken into possession to immediately and permanently house all unhoused families in urgent need."

Committing to set up isolation rooms in the Bay Area and across the state is a good first step. But leaving thousands of rooms vacant while thousands of human beings are at risk of dying is both wrong and bad for public health. Creating massive shelters is not in line with the Center for Disease Control's guidelines. Individuals and families must be given access to self quarantine, not communal living. We are all connected. A just and effective disaster response must include everyone.
Added to the calendar on Wed, Apr 8, 2020 3:43PM
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