A watercolor painting of a Black hand holds a scale in its fist. In the background, a bright red pattern.
Miranda Evans

Huey P. Newton, the Black Panther icon, will be the namesake of a recently renovated Oakland, California, building to house the homeless and the formerly incarcerated, thanks to Elaine Brown, former Black Panther leader and other social advocacy groups, according to the Oakland Post.

“There is no population at greater risk of homelessness than people being released back into society, who suffer wholesale denial of housing and employment solely because of their former incarceration, most of whom are Black men and women,” Brown told the Post.

Brown spearheaded the acquisition of the property with $21 million in Homekey program funding from both the state and the City of Oakland’s Housing Departments. Brown is currently CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises, a nonprofit organization.

The Newton building is located at 392 11th Street in downtown Oakland. It was formerly the Traveler’s Hotel. The purchase of the building is the result of a partnership between Brown’s nonprofit, Oakland’s MPI Homes, Affordable Housing Associates, and McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), a St. Louis-based developer.

Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and Donald Frazier, BOSS’s executive director, were credited with securing the agreement with the Health Care Services Agency and the Alameda County Probation Department, according to the Post.

BOSS will oversee and operate support services for the men and women returning home from prison and housed at that location.

Sheila Olatoye, director of the City of Oakland’s Housing Department, was also thanked for securing $7 million of city funds included in the total funds awarded.

Governor Gavin Newsom, the state Department of Housing, and the Oakland City Council were acknowledged for their contributions to making the purchase of the building happen.

The Homekey program is dedicated to purchasing and converting properties to assist people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The program will focus on hotels, motels and vacant apartment buildings that can be renovated, according to the article.

“We are grateful to have this opportunity to provide some place for them,” said Brown.

This article was originally published by the San Quentin News, the newspaper that is produced by the incarcerated men inside San Quentin State Prison and reports on rehabilitative efforts to increase public safety and achieve social justice.

Harry C. Goodall Jr. is a writer from the San Quentin Journalism Guild.