On a sunny Saturday in November, some 250 people gathered in Moss- wood Park to demand an end to un- just housing practices and housing for their homeless neighbors. Under the clear blue skies, Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” played from a loudspeaker. People filed into the park carrying hand-made signs that read “occupy homes” and “no more landlords.” The crowd was alive with conversation as they waited for the march to begin.
The November 23 event, called “March for Housing Now,” was just one of the events in the Bay Area’s Housing Week of Action—a week of marches, conversations, and direct action intended to push city officials to step up efforts to end the housing crisis.
As the music died down, and Carroll Fiffe kicked off the event with a speech. “We need to make Oakland the model for what can happen when people say enough is enough and are putting their feet down,” said Fiffe, the director of the Oakland/San Francisco chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).
The march was hosted by eight local organizations who are fighting the housing crisis from different angles: ACCE Action, SIEU Local 1021, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO), East Bay Democratic Socialists of America, Sunrise Movement Bay Area, Youth vs. Apocalypse, and Strike Debt Bay Area. In turn, the event was a gathering place for an array of other organizers who are working on different aspects of the housing crisis. Their collective presence represented the wide reach of the housing crisis, which not only bears upon unhoused people, but also the environment, the working poor, generations of young people, and many others.
“We’re not going to get any of the solutions we want if we don’t work collectively,” Fiffe said. “We have got to break down the silos that we organize in so that we can strike with one mighty blow.”
The photos in this essay feature just some of the groups that attended the March for Housing Now. While each organization brought a different perspective, they all banded together as they marched out of the park and down MacArthur Blvd, toward a future of housing for all.
“We are here because we are jews who support housing equality both here and in Israel and Palestine. We understand that there is a link between what goes on there and what goes on here. It’s the same systems of oppression.”Ellen Brotsky, Jews for Peace
“We are here because we believe housing shouldn’t be an investment. We need housing for people, not for profit. Unfortunately under capitalism, people struggle just to pay rent. We see the tenant movement as a huge driver in changing that and creating possibilities for hope, whether it’s the work of the moms or the Oakland Land Trust. There are ways to fight speculation and prefigure the world we would like to see—a world where housing is a guarantee.”Isaac Harris, co-chair of the social housing committee with East Bay DSA
“We have been working for housing justice for 30 years and this is as bad as it’s ever been. We want to bring what we have learned from 30 years of doing this work to help the movement. Where is the money from the impact fees? It’s millions of dollars, and the city literally cannot tell us.”Gloria Bruce, Executive Director of EBHO
“We are here because we support housing for all, and it needs to be affordable and paid for by the government. It’s not okay that people are sleeping on the street in the richest place in the world.”C Schwartz, Musicians Action Group
“We are here to show up in solidarity around the housing and greed crisis, and to show up as young people with access to wealth and class privilege and demonstrate our commitment to systemic change”Torie White, Resource Generation
“Sunrise is here because to save our planet we have to save our home. The Green New Deal will only work if we prioritize those most affected by environmental racism. The only way to ensure a livable future is to ensure housing for all. And this responsibility falls on greedy landlords and corporations.”Remus Annani, Sunrise Movement
Alastair Boone is the Co-Editor in Chief of Street Spirit.