Some Oakland residents have decided to try and combat the city’s growing housing crisis by building a “community center” at a homeless camp under a highway overpass.
Dubbed “Cob on Wood,” the village includes amenities such as a toilet, shower, kitchen, health clinic, and store, the New York Post reported Saturday.
“It’s sort of like a little oasis in the middle of nowhere that makes you feel like maybe you’re normal again,” John Janosko, whose residence is a trailer at the encampment, told reporters.
The area also reportedly features a pizza oven, fire pit, and open mic nights.
“The village challenges local regulations, zoning laws, health ordinances and safety issues,” the Post article continued:
The Oakland city auditor in April released a report that highlighted a litany of problems that plague the city’s estimated 140 homeless communities, including: 1,599 interventions for “hygiene and garbage services” from 2018 to 2020, 1,458 police calls and 988 fires over the same period.
However, Cob on Wood’s advocates hope it can ease many of those issues.
“This place and what we created can serve as a model for other encampments across Oakland, across the nation and across the world,” Xochitl Bernadette Moreno, who is cofounder and director of the grassroots group Essential Food and Medicine, said.
Moreno’s group helped construct the village alongside activist organizations Living Earth Structures and Artists Building Communities, according to the Post.
“When you’re living with the stress of what you’re going to eat or how you’re going to care for your body in a very basic way, it leaves you unavailable to think about larger things like how one might get a job or start to navigate the process of applying for housing,” Moreno said.
According to Essential Food and Medicine’s YouTube page, there are about 150 people living at the Wood Street encampment who are “in danger of being evicted by Cal Trans in May 2021, and the Cob on Wood community space is in danger of being demolished.”
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a plan last week to spend $12 billion on homelessness in his state and promised to solve the issue of “family homelessness” in the next five years, Breitbart News reported.
“Newsom’s approach will build on the state’s temporary strategy during the coronavirus pandemic, which involved spending money to house homeless people in hotel rooms — and, eventually, purchasing some hotel and apartment buildings for them,” the article read.
“He did not explain how California would prevent such a program from enticing more homeless people to move to the state, nor how the state would confront the mental health and substance abuse challenges from which many homeless people suffer,” it concluded.