Open Letter to Libby Schaaf from a Homeless Oakland Family

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Dear Mayor Libby Schaaf, 

Like thousands of other families in Oakland, we are sick and tired of being homeless. Everywhere we go, it’s barriers. Everyone has a different story of how they became homeless, but every homeless person has experienced the things we’ve experienced:

  • Discrimination — because we have evictions on our record, because we’re Black, because we have too many children, etc.
  • Inadequate protection from bad landlords — slumlords have us living in unlivable, unhealthy conditions, landlords raise rents and evict tenants illegally, and the City doesn’t do enough to enforce tenant protections.
  • Nowhere to turn for help — overcrowded shelters, shelters that turn us away unless we’re fleeing domestic violence or recovering from substance abuse, housing programs with 5 year long waiting lists, service providers who make promises and then don’t follow through, having to tell our stories over and over and over again just to hear another person say, “I’ll pray for you,” desperately posting our youcaring page on Facebook hoping someone will donate. 
  • Constant fear & threats to safety — sherrifs showing up to evict us with shotguns drawn, police threatening to arrest us in front of our children for sleeping in a parked car, people breaking into our car to steal the few possessions we have left.

We are the end of our rope. We can’t live like this.

We shouldn’t have to. 

Our children deserve better.

Mayor Libby Schaaf, you need to start prioritizing our needs over the interests of people who are profiting from our suffering:

  • We need immediate emergency relief for all homeless families in Oakland. No child under the age of 18 should be without shelter on your watch.
  • Protect Oakland Renters. Prevent other people from going through the hell we’ve been going through for the past two years. Put the #ProtectOaklandRenters initiative on the 2016 ballot immediately, and extend the moratorium on no-fault evictions & rent increases until permanent tenant protections are passed, funded, implemented, and enforced.
  • Redistribute at least 25% of OPD’s budget to fund programs and services to prevent and address displacement, poverty and violence in our city. You campaigned on the idea of “a holistic approach to public safety.” How can you justify spending over 60% of Oakland’s general fund (we may be homeless, but we pay taxes too) to pay cops to stalk our families by night (when they’re not out committing statutory rape, breaking into people’s houses and God knows what else!)? We need a place for our babies to sleep. The police can’t help us with that. We need food and healthcare for our children. The police can’t help us with that. We need jobs that pay enough for us to be able to afford the cost of living in Oakland. The police can’t help us with that, and we are not safe. Holistic public safety means applying for the youth jobs grant on time and using public land for public good. 

Today at noon, we are moving into Oakland City Hall. We’re bringing an inflatable mattress, bedding, and our four children. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We have nowhere else to go. If you don’t want us at City Hall, give us a safe place to stay. Your house looks like it might have a few extra rooms in it. 

We invite all long-time Oaklanders (especially families with children) who have been experiencing homelessness to join us today. If you’re hungry, come to City Hall. We have organized meals to be served for all who show up. We ask for all people of conscience to come out and support our family and all the homeless families in Oakland. 

Thank you for standing with us. #StopStayExpand

The Beal Family 

If you want to support our family, but can't come to City Hall today, please donate to our housing/survival fund. 

Posted on June 30, 2016 .