Abode Services is a Housing First agency, and we work in the belief that safe, affordable housing is a fundamental right to all. We have an office in Oakland, where we’ve worked for years to end homelessness throughout the City and the Bay Area. We’re proud to continue to partner with the City of Oakland to provide housing options to local homeless people through the Oakland PATH Re-housing Initiative (OPRI) and other housing programs we administer.
We understand that, in the wake of the tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire, the City is receiving pressure from many sides to crack down quickly on similar live/work spaces. However, we respectfully ask Oakland leaders to consider the following:
Many of these live/work spaces have already received eviction notices from landlords who are uncertain and afraid and, in that environment of uncertainty and fear, have resorted to leaving the housing market entirely.
These evictions are contributing to the overwhelming number of homeless individuals already seeking housing, and are reducing the overall housing stock in the City of Oakland.
Instead of being the problem, these spaces have the potential to be part of the solution to the City’s housing and homelessness crisis.
With City leadership and community collaboration, these live/work buildings could become safe, code-compliant spaces that continue to provide affordable housing for hundreds of people. The policy necessary to address legalizing and improving the safety of these spaces will take time to develop, but the homelessness facing these individuals is immediate.
Once homeless, these individuals will be even more difficult to re-house as they face difficulties maintaining employment or even basic health and hygiene, said Louis Chicoine, executive director of Abode Services.
“Oakland is at a crossroads, as more and more local residents find it impossible to sustain their housing in the community they love,” Chicoine said. “We encourage the city to protect its residents by enacting a moratorium on all evictions of live/work spaces.”
Many of these spaces are actively collaborating with community partners to improve their safety in the immediate future, and are already cooperating with government officials on more permanent solutions. By supporting an immediate eviction moratorium, we stand in support of further developing these community efforts, instead of thwarting collaboration with an uncertain, unsafe policy environment that may result in uncertain, unsafe housing - or no housing at all.
For these reasons, we urge Oakland leaders to impose an immediate moratorium on all evictions of live/work warehouse spaces.
About Abode Services
Established in 1989, Abode Services’ mission is to end homelessness by assisting low-income, un-housed people, including those with special needs, to secure stable, supportive housing; and to be advocates for the removal of the causes of homelessness. Abode Services, the Bay Area’s largest provider of housing services to homeless people, has provided homes to 5,074 adults and children in the past five years. Abode Services offers programs in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Alameda counties that combine housing and services to assist homeless families and individuals in establishing stability and independence. Last year, Abode Services assisted more than 4,400 people and ensured that on any given night more than 2,000 people slept in a home rather than on the street.
To learn more about Abode Services visit: www.abodeservices.org.