Re: Apologies to Re: [pdxshelterforum] Hope and Disappointment for the Homeless in Oakland-NY Times


Trena Sutton
 

Please do not apologize, what you had to say was not only relative to this form but it was interesting to read. I'm a big supporter of Bybee Lake Hope Center and I'm thrilled you communicated with Richelle who oversees voluntary programs. She is a dynamic person.

 I'm currently working with homeless veterans in Central Oregon. We just broke ground for a 15 tiny home project in Bend. You don't see the homeless camps like you do in Portland and surrounding areas. Central Oregon has a great deal of open space but unfortunately much of the land is owned by the county or the US Forest Service and they are not terribly hospitable towards those living Outdoors. The faith-based community in Central Oregon has really stepped up to help but the house was have become a bit xenophobic because of the hostilities directed towards them from the local constabulary.

On Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 9:46 PM Mh Kincaid <jamasu88@...> wrote:
I apologize for my error in replying to an email sent by a member of this group. I had no idea it would go the whole group.  
Humility is at work in my world...

Maryhelen Kincaid


From: pdxshelterforum@groups.io <pdxshelterforum@groups.io> on behalf of Mh Kincaid <jamasu88@...>
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 8:41 PM
To: pdxshelterforum@groups.io <pdxshelterforum@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] Hope and Disappointment for the Homeless in Oakland-NY Times
 
I am working/spending time in the garden, and trying to not pay attention to all the proposed actions that get lofted in these groups.  I am spending a good deal of time working on the Vanport Placemarking Project,  We got our first sign installed on June 30th and 2 more should be installed at the Vanport theater site by the end of August.  I attached a picture of the first sign. We had a booth at the Rose Cup Races July 9-11th and had a lot of good conversations with people about their knowledge, or lack of knowledge, about Vanport. Besides the heat it was a really good opportunity to connect with a different demographic.

I contacted Raven at Bybee Lakes, about getting donated pastries and bread from Marsee Bakery Outlet and she put me in touch with Richelle.  I am going to Marsee tomorrow to see what I can get donated.

I will forward you an email I sent to Dan Ryan.  There are North Portland folks all up in arms over the list of 70 sites.  Mostly complaining, and wanting citizens and neighborhoods to pick the usable sites. My belief is whoever has the money will decide, so "we" should focus on providing a plan and a way for "them" to spend thei money.  

I am glad you are having fun with your kids and grandkids.  I am not sure I could take "nonstop" but know it is really rewarding and you are making lots of memories.

Get in touch when you have time, and are rested...

Maryhelen
 


From: pdxshelterforum@groups.io <pdxshelterforum@groups.io> on behalf of Janice Yaden via groups.io <janiceyaden=yahoo.com@groups.io>
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 12:57 PM
To: pdxshelterforum@groups.io <pdxshelterforum@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] Hope and Disappointment for the Homeless in Oakland-NY Times
 
I read this.  Still unanswered questions, as usual in a news article.  Anyhow, another look at homelessness.  
What are you doing these days?  Our kids are here with their kids and we are non-stop activity center.
Janice

On Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 04:36:55 PM PDT, Sally Bachman <sarahbach@...> wrote:


FYI

 

Hope and Disappointment for the Homeless in Oakland

Wednesday: A homeless couple went from a tent to a trailer, but continues to wait after more than a year for something more permanent.

By Brett Simpson

July 14, 2021

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/14/us/oakland-homeless-housing.html?searchResultPosition=1

 

Good morning.

When Kymberli Wilson opens her eyes in the morning, the sight of a solid roof still disorients her.

She and her husband, Lenton, live in a 20-foot trailer at the Coliseum Stadium parking lot in Oakland. Home used to be a tent at the 77th Street homeless encampment, where they had to fill two jugs of water daily and dodge rats at night.

“It’s a big step up from the sidewalk,” Kymberli, 56, said. “No leaks, no wind, and we’re never cold.”

Kymberli and Lenton, 61, arrived at the city-run trailer site last May. But they never expected to stay. In a time of increased investment in helping the homeless, the trailer was offered as a pathway to permanent housing. And this year, a real home seemed within reach for the couple.

In January, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $1.75 billion of new investment in housing, and in March, President Biden’s American Rescue Act passed with $50 billion in housing and homelessness assistance.

But more than a year after arriving at a stadium parking lot that was meant to be temporary, the Wilsons remain in the trailer, and feel no closer to finding permanent housing and leaving life on the streets behind.

A broken-down Cadillac near the tent where the Wilsons had been living, before they moved to a trailer. Credit...Jared R. Stapp

The Wilsons are two of the approximately 2,000 homeless seniors in Alameda County. Some have gotten lucky with long-term leases on apartments, group homes and hotel rooms. But the Wilsons’ odyssey through a year of hope and disappointment points to a more persistent crisis for the homeless population that has evaded solutions, despite a significant injection of pandemic-relief money.

“I don’t worry about a virus,” Kymberli Wilson said. “It will be false hope that gets us in the end.”

A little more than a year ago, the Wilsons’ tent-home in Oakland at the 77th Street homeless encampment had no solid walls. At the end of a line of tents, under the overpass of the Coliseum BART station, the structure was unmistakable: a sprawling patchwork of blue tarp, gray nylon and red duct tape stretched over wooden beams. Other homeless residents there called it “the mansion.”

Outside, bikes, lawn mowers and construction tools were sprawled everywhere. Inside, there was a kitchen table, a full-size bed and a dresser full of clothes.

It was all that remained of the couple’s old life. In 2014, both left their jobs at the nearby Oakland Arena — she was a cashier, he was a parking attendant — to care for her father. When her father died in 2015, she and her husband were evicted from her father’s house. They spent a year in a parking lot behind a Church’s Chicken, then moved to the encampment.

They started a landscaping business, pulling their gear on a trailer behind a mint green cruiser bicycle as they rode across the city to tend lawns and dreamed of saving enough to escape. Last year, as Covid-19 swept across the state, the pandemic brought fear and uncertainty but also something unexpected: opportunity.

One morning last year in mid-April, the encampment leader showed up at the Wilsons’ tent with news: Oakland was receiving 67 fully furnished and state-financed trailers from the state’s Office of Emergency Services to house homeless people during the pandemic. Because of their ages, the Wilsons were eligible.

The trailer community at the Oakland parking lot where the Wilsons live.Credit...Jared R. Stapp

A trailer meant running water and electricity. It meant no more trips across the BART tracks to fill five-gallon jugs with water. And no more noisy generator consuming gallons of costly gas every day. But the Wilsons were hesitant. The trailer was smaller than their tent, with less storage space. And there was no sense of how long they could stay after the pandemic.

“Our tent is all we have,” Kymberli said that night in April. “If we leave, we can never come back.”

Then they heard from a former neighbor that Operation HomeBase, a new city program to help Oakland’s oldest and most vulnerable homeless residents, wouldn’t just provide a trailer, but would also provide a case worker to help them find permanent housing. The couple talked it over, eating Panda Express on the queen-size bed in the so-called mansion. And they decided to take the risk.

“We’re not getting any younger,” Kymberli said at the time. “Every choice we make is to get back inside.”

So on May 28, the Wilsons loaded the possessions they could fit onto their bike trailer — mowers, food, clothes, shoes — and traversed the overpass to a parking lot on Hegenberger Road. They filled out forms, received keys to Unit 46 and walked inside. What they saw stunned them: an open interior, filled with light from six windows. Gleaming brown cabinets, an upholstered couch, a bed and a kitchen table. Air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and an indoor bathroom.

Outside, an awning unfolded with the push of a button. And a community building offered free on-site meals, laundry service and medical support to all residents. As soon as the Wilsons dropped off their belongings, they took celebratory showers.

As the summer faded into the fall, they adjusted. They stopped expecting the sound of rats at night. They got used to using the bathroom without going outside. Three times a day, they got in line with the other residents and enjoyed a free meal — compliments of local restaurants. The Sunday brunch was their favorite: eggs, sausages, hash browns and Danishes. They began to gain weight.

But a promised case worker, who was supposed to help them transition to a home, never materialized. In January, the Wilsons took matters into their own hands. They applied for spots in public and private housing programs. Time and again, they failed to win the housing lottery. They are now on four waiting lists.

 

Kymberli and Lenton Wilson outside of the tent where they were living last year.Credit...Jared R. Stapp

Marichelle Alcantara, homeless programs manager for Operation HomeBase, said only one case worker served all 124 of the site’s residents for the first year of the operation. In May, the site hired three more case workers. But the Wilsons, both healthy and without dependents, have not reached the top of the priority list.

“Honestly, we expected people to arrive with their own case workers,” Alcantara said in April. “We were overwhelmed by the demand for support.”

In late April, the city announced that Operation HomeBase would be extended for another year. All residents can continue living at the Hegenberger Road site until 2022.

But the Wilsons feel stuck.

They cannot move forward, and they cannot go back to the tent. Their old “mansion” still sits under the BART overpass, but it is now occupied. Everything the Wilsons left behind there has long since been claimed. Their former friends and neighbors have mostly scattered to state-sponsored hotel rooms under Project Roomkey, another program that started during the pandemic.

“We want a house key. We want to pay rent,” Kymberli said. “We never thought we’d have to wait this long.”

Brett Simpson writes for the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism.

 

Join pdxshelterforum@groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.