I have seen something quite remarkable start to develop over the last few months. In the face of increased pressure on working people to find decent housing, some of the most hard-pressed people in the Bay Area have not only been standing their ground against threats of eviction—they are also traveling across neighborhoods to support comrades in other struggles doing the same.
In January 2016, me and my daughter started feeding our unhoused neighbors in the streets. Little did we know that simple sharing would evolve into a crew of 70 people called Feed The People. Who knew that Feed The People would transform into a movement called The Village, which fights to decriminalize homelessness, builds emergency shelters, asserts that housing is a human right, and joins the call for another model of urban development that does not displace lifelong residents of The Town.
Amidst a slew of new homelessness policy, the unhoused organize to make an impact. Homelessness has long been recognized as a staggering social crisis in the Bay Area, but 2018 was the year it became a full-blown political and legal crisis. In Oakland—the epicenter of the East Bay’s shelter crisis—homelessness was the top issue debated during the mayoral and city council races, and the city’s leaders increasingly recognize the need to prioritize services and shelter for the unhoused.
It was December 6, and Oakland Police officers had stormed Housing and Dignity Village—a homeless encampment for women of color and their children in East Oakland—to evict the residents who lived there.