Friday 3rd of July 2020 11:46:00 PM GMT

That Some City Of Oakland Workers Are Homeless Should Alarm Every Oaklander

(Last Updated On: June 28, 2019)

That Some City Of Oakland Workers Are Homeless Should Alarm Every Oaklander

ONN – That Some City Of Oakland Workers Are Homeless Should Alarm Every Oaklander

A City of Oakland job was once sought after because of its benefits. My first job out of UC Berkeley’s Master Of City Planning Program in 1987 was with the City of Oakland’s Office Of Economic Development and Employment as an intern.

After creating a computer model called “The Area Redevelopment Economic Model”, (and which could be used to evaluate the economic and fiscal impact of any California Redevelopment Project) I was rehired as a consultant to the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. Then, in 1995, and through 2001, I was Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris. I wanted one of those upper middle class positions, even beyond what I had.

But even with what I had, the City of Oakland had an excellent financial benefits program. The then-black-ran Oakland Credit Union paved the way for me to buy a cool car. The point is that, for some time, a job with the Oakland Redevelopment Agency was seen as the ticket to a better life for many African Americans. It was a refuge against the private sector racism many of us faced.

Fast forward to today, and what I learned in talking to City of Oakland workers and members of Union Local 21 is that a number of City of Oakland employees are homeless. That is unthinkable.

All the more crazy is the idea that the Mayor of Oakland and the Oakland City Council has not lifted a finger to do anything about the problem. One employee told me that the Mayor of Oakland and the City Administrator didn’t want this to be known. That person assumed that it was because Libby sought higher office.

I personally don’t believe that, but there’s a problem. It has to do with one fact – this one:

When California Redevelopment Law was active, the City of Oakland routinely borrowed from its Oakland Redevelopment Agency. When then-former-Mayor of Oakland and California Governor Jerry Brown got rid of California Redevelopment Law, Oakland’s ability to use part of that money to help pay for City of Oakland jobs was gone.

And before you say that California Redevelopment Law didn’t allow for the payment of jobs for city services, let me add that California Health and Safety Code Section 33678, Subdivision B, allowed for the payment of such city services if the action was spelled out in the redevelopment plan. One thing I can say is I know Sections 33000 through 33999 of the California Heath and Safety Code like the back of my hand. That’s the legal lifeblood of what was and still is the dormant California Redevelopment Law. It should be restored.

The City of Oakland, used California Redevelopment Law to do everything from help the Oakland Police by removing crack houses in East Oakland, to build the now (finally) finished Oakland City Center.

The Oakland City Council Has To Fix This City of Oakland Problem

We have to fix this. Homelessness is a problem our City of Oakland seems reluctant to consider a true emergency. But when one of its own is facing the problem, all hesitancy should be halted for swift action: pass an emergency aide package for homeless City of Oakland workers, now. Even if it means shifting reserves to do so.

The emergency aide package for homeless City of Oakland workers should simply be a one-time grant to allow them to get an apartment at a rent level of a target mark of 2,000 per month, and then include the move-in deposit.

I don’t know how many City of Oakland workers are homeless, but earmarking a fund of $2.5 million, issued in $50,000 blocks per worker, is enough to assist 45 City of Oakland homeless workers, and allow them to pay for housing for two years, each, under that rent mark. The program should be issued via the City of Oakland Office of Housing and Community Development.

That should be considered a pilot program – then the City can monitor it and then adjust it for increased demand, if necessary. But we’re talking about City of Oakland workers: it should be no problem to move heaven and earth for Oakland to take care of its own.

Stay tuned.

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Zennie Abraham
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