Dear Oakland City Council,
Last night, on May 30, I attempted to speak publicly to Oakland City Council specifically to comment on item 12 in this agenda. Due to the length of the meeting, I had to leave in order to put my third grader to bed. I sat patiently in chambers for nearly FOUR hours but wasn’t able to affirm many of my fellow neighbor’s voices, whom I was proud to see showed up strong. I’d like to submit this as my public statement and request that the council considers this sentiment one that represents many of my neighbors whom I’ve spoken with directly.
Here are my prepared remarks that I had hoped to share at last night’s meeting:
Hello, my name is Anita Singha, a resident of district three and member of Housing Our Unhoused Residents (HOUR). I live on Wood street and see the effects of the housing crisis every day. My family drives by piled up trash, inadequate shelter, porta potties that aren’t well maintained, and unsafe camps for women and elderly. This is a hugely unsettling and stark contrast to the extremely expensive new housing being built in my neighborhood. I have read the staff reports in the agenda and am alarmed at the very low amount of funding and planning that barely covers 2015 unhoused estimates of 2600 unhoused and frankly lacks a long-term vision for equitable housing for all residents in Oakland. The $180,00 that was allocated for the Compassionate Communities pilot was simply not an adequate dollar amount to use for estimates for additional sanctioned camps. I had hoped to see that the city would have learned more money is necessary to effectively run sanitary and safe camps and therefore I can’t support more sanctioned camps with the estimates provided and don’t feel there is enough staffing to address complex issues.
I urge the city council to do more research and scope the full estimates needed to find safe housing for all residents living on the streets, this should be the long-term vision, not simply shuffling a small population in and out of shelters. The Mayor and the Council must make funding for affordable, extremely low incoming housing, services and effective shelters and navigation centers a priority, not a back burner issue. I ask you to use Measure KK funds that I am paying for out my property tax to create homes for the unhoused. Look to fund from A1 bond, state funding and plan for the long term and stop passing the buck to other agencies. This is an Oakland issue! Further to add one more point to reiterate many voices tonight, I also ask that the city focuses on running an efficient police department, I ask Libby to re-consider her lofty goal of 800 police, stop police overtime pay mismanagement and fund the Police Commission by an additional $350,000 so we have a well run OPD, as the voters wanted! Use the budget in every way possible to help those in need and investing in the vibrancy and future a city I hope to call home for decades to come. These investments will make for a better city that works for everyone. Thank you.