Oakland, CA- This past Friday, March 27th, for the first time, the Oakland City Council held a special city council meeting by teleconference. An estimated 1,000 participants joined the meeting via zoom or phone.
At this meeting, the Council unanimously supported Council President Kaplan’s Resolution to more closely follow the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Interim Guidelines on Homelessness as it pertains to clearing homeless encampments. The Council agreed, that during this time, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to ensure that unhoused individuals, as a vulnerable population, are not disproportionately impacted, a homeless encampment can only be removed if an appropriate shelter is provided that follows social distancing guidelines. The CDC has specifically stated in their guidelines that clearing encampments “increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”
The Council also passed two other Resolutions from Council President Kaplan at the same time, including a Resolution to acquire facilities, buildings, and supplies to aid homeless residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and a Resolution to award a contract for regular trash pickup service from homeless encampments.
An emergency eviction moratorium Ordinance written by Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas and Dan Kalb and City Attorney Barbara Parker to protect renters, small businesses and nonprofits unable to pay rent due to loss of income and/or increased expenses because of COVID-19, effective until May 31, 2020 was also heard and unanimously passed. It also prevents late fees from amassing during this time.
Said Council President Kaplan. “Our homeless residents already have higher rates of illness and are at risk for acute and chronic illnesses. An interim sweep moratorium unless appropriate shelter is provided is a necessary step to ensure that our most vulnerable residents do not contract COVID-19.”