The brutal evictions of hundreds of already evicted people from the largest houseless community in Oakland and the journey to safe ground
by Tiny Gray-Garcia aka povertyskola
“We want to make sure the housed neighbors here know we are being very conscious about all of us being safe, both us housed and unhoused residents of this land,” said fierce povertyskola and resident leader of Wood Street Commons LaMonte at a press conference on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and World Homeless Day.
Thanks to the tireless work of unhoused povertyskolaz across the state from Oakland to Sacramento and the liberation moves of conscious legislator Carroll Fife, the Wood Street Community moved many of their RVs and trailers onto a vacant CalTrans lot at 34th and Mandela streets in West Oakland.
The journey to Mandela
“We have nowhere to go, we are asking you, begging you to stop these evictions.” John Bowman Janosko, one of the houseless povertyskola resident leaders of Wood Street Commons, stood alongside LaMonte, LeaJay, Tamara and advocates and supporters Xochitl, Delphine, Jas and more truth warrior residents, pleading to the poltrickster to actually listen and do something to stop this violent displacement of already displaced people at Wood Street Commons and Cob on Wood – one of the largest comeUnities of houseless residents in the Bay Area.
Note: I refuse to call it “an encampment,” as this is more otherising language from poltricksters and krapitalist haters. It’s a comeUnity, a neighborhood, a village of poor people who support and care for each other like all us poor folks do.
“Throughout this past week and over the past month, the California Highway Patrol and California Department of Transportation have been permanently evicting Wood Street encampment residents en masse at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom, destroying their tiny homes, vehicles and the community they have created together there over the past decade,” said formerly unhoused Oakland-based advocate Delphine Brody, who biked with Wood Street resident organizers and advocates to Sacramento.
On Oct. 1, Wood Street residents traveled up by bike from Oakland (Lisjan land) to Nisenan/Maidu territory aka the Sacramento State Krapitol to visit with legislators (what I call LIEgislators) to raise funds for the Wood Street community, demand an end to the evictions of Wood Street residents, other unhoused Oaklanders and unhoused warriors from the Sacramento Homeless Union and call on state officials to support the civil and human rights of unhoused people with access to permanent housing, water, electricity, trash removal and other basic resources that allow them to live with dignity, safety and stability. POOR Magazine/Homefulness formerly houseless and houseless povertyskolaz from Ohlone Lisjan land (Oakland) joined them.
“All of these evictions cost so much money – millions of dollars in personnel. From poLice to sheriffs to administrative personnel, why not give it to us to create our own solutions?” LaMonte asked, going on to say that the City of Oakland received over $6 million for “homeless services” – and spends most of that on sweeping homeless people.
Our group, approximately 20 people in total, walked from one LIEgislator to another, explaining the impossible situation of evictions of hundreds of residents from where they have been living for the last several years to a series of LIEgislative aides who repeated half-heartedly multiple times: “Well, there isn’t much we can do.”
It hurt my heart to hear John use the B word (“beg”) to the LIEgislative aides who barely bothered to “take notes” for their bosses, and yet, that’s where this krapitalist system has put us poor folk. Begging to not be displaced, removed, evicted, terrorized.
Like Iris Canadá, Elaine Turner, Shannon Marie Bigley, Desiree Quintero, me and my mama and all of our POOR Magazine family, when we were on the street and so many more Houseless and barely housed elders and families evicted, swept and killed by this violent settler lie of private property.
“We have built a thriving community there, with a free store for clothes, a safe haven to rest if you are currently in crisis, food and supplies, this is what they are destroying, a community of homeless people helping ourselves,” John concluded
“When you keep sweeping us we keep being homeless; the only thing that helped me out of homelessness is Homefulness,” said Israel Munoz to the LIEgislators, one of the formerly houseless residents of Homefulness – a homeless people’s rent-free housing and healing solution to homelessness we poor and indigenous peoples have built in Deep East Huchiun.
On Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, Oakland and Sacramento unhoused organizers held a potluck and a press session at the reclaimed community space on a vacant city-owned lot at Arden Way and Colfax Street in Sacramento The importance of the location they chose was to highlight the ongoing politricks of the City of Sacramento which, like most of the settler towns across Turtle Island that would rather sweep people than house them, had spent $617,000 to fence and pave a lot designated for safe parking for houseless people.
Instead, they moved approximately 150 unhoused residents in circles around the lot and ultimately, last April, forced them off the lot to fence it off and lock people out, displacing people throughout the city. Sacramento spent millions of dollars to force people back onto the streets.
At least 300 cops and 150 workers
POOR Magazine povertyskola reporters, who are houseless ourselves due in large part to the City of Oakland charging us endless permits and delays for over 11 years – refusing to let us open our own solution to homelessness we call Homefulness – have been to Wood Street to report, support, build and vision with residents for the last several years.
But since the “mysterious” fires started happening over the last two months, which this povertyskola has her own theories about, CalTrans has had the ammunition to tow, demolish, destroy and evict a thriving comeUnity, a neighborhood of people, who unlike most neighborhoods in most settler towns actually got along and supported each other.
“We had beautiful tiny homes built out here which were our homes until they put a notice on it and told us we had to move because they were going to demolish it,” said Kelly, one of many residents of tiny homes and RVs who were forced to leave the Wood street community.
The City has done nothing really for the residents, except enable more violent sweeps and removal. The city coughed up a total of 40 beds and even they were not easily attainable. The large non-profiteers are hit and miss with their support and requiring of so much red tape most people give up in the process or lose more of their belongings or vehicles in the process of supposedly “getting help” like Wood Street resident and RoofLESS radio reporter Tony reported at the Revolutionary Journalism class at POOR Magazine.
Thanks to the fierce moves of siStar warrior Carroll Fife, who also helped cut through the endless red tape of settler politricks in Oakland so Homefulness could finally open last month, a proposal was created by Fife for the Wood Street residents relocation to the Oakland Army Base:
“Resolution directing the City Administrator to allow access to the undesignated eight acres on the North Gateway parcel located at the former Oakland army base to serve up to 300 individuals who have been displaced due to the Wood Street encampment closure, and directing the City Administrator, in collaboration with state and Alameda County leaders, to develop a plan to stand up a more stable housing intervention with supportive services on eight acres of the North Gateway parcel to serve unhoused communities throughout District 3, with priority to residents from the Wood Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way encampments.”
The City ended up watering this down to a mostly useless proposal that would not benefit the residents who are in immediate danger of being scattered to the wind. Because, like my mama Dee used to say, they wouldn’t get the danger of homelessness; they ain’t never missed a meal, much less a roof.
“All the places people have been scattered to are also being swept, removed and threatened. Where are we supposed to go?” Wood Street resident Jas Colibri added to the aide.
“While climate terrorism is raging across MamaEarth, it is time to actually try something different, like working with First Nations and houseless warriors like Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, Homefulness and Wood Street to unSell and unSettle land instead of more buying and selling, re-devil-oping and stealing. Can you tell Attorney General Bonta that?” I pleaded with one of the CONfused looking aides.
“When you actually listen to poor and houseless people, you find out we have our own solutions. When you support our ideas, we solve our own problems, like we are doing with Homefulness.”
Join Wood Street ComeUnity and Homefulness ComeUnity and other leaders and Indigenous prayer-bringers for the announcement of their collaboration to build Homefulness #2 at the site of Homefulness at 7600 Black Arthur (MacArthur) Boulevard in Deep East Huchiun (Oakland) on Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.
To support the Wood Street relatives, follow them on Instagram @woodstreetcommons or @cobonwood. To read the Wood Street residents’ own words written by them at POOR Magazine’s revolutionary journalism class, click here. Reach Tiny on Twitter or Instagram @povertyskola or at her website at lisatinygraygarcia.com.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, aka “povertyskola,” is a poet, teacher and the formerly houseless, incarcerated daughter of Dee and mama of Tiburcio and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America” and “Poverty Scholarship: Poor People-led Theory, Art, Words and Tears Across Mama Earth” and co-founder of Homefulness, a homeless people’s solution to homelessness. Reach her at www.lisatinygraygarcia.com or @povertyskola on Twitter.