Collective Statement on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Local Demands (Expanded List)
[En español aqui]
Oakland Rising believes our most vulnerable communities need to be prioritized, protected, served, and lifted up NOW.
The health and economic crisis we are now confronted with has laid bare the consequences of the dismantling of the safety net and decades of growing inequality in the Bay Area. Low-income families, immigrants, Black people and people of color were bearing the brunt of these inequalities and now, in this pandemic, are most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis as well. While there is uncertainty in terms of the scope and lasting impact of the crisis, there is an opportunity to lead a fundamental shift in the structure of society and our economy. In moments of crises, we have both an opportunity to reimagine what our city, state, and society becomes, as well as an obligation to respond to the immediate needs of our communities.
We need and deserve strong public institutions that support basic human rights and help ensure safety and prosperity for all.
Through our collective power we must prioritize our most vulnerable communities in order for us to survive this pandemic and we must commit to building a new equitable world that works for all of our families.
We must ensure everyone is healthy, able to shelter-in-place safely, and provided free healthcare. We must ensure we provide for everyone’s basic needs, like food and clean water. We must protect our essential workers, who continue to work at the front lines of the healthcare crisis. We must protect all workers by creating, enforcing and strengthening existing policies. We must stabilize housing for all by creating permanent housing solutions. We must decarcerate our jails and prisons, including immigrantion detention facilities. We must find equitable education and childcare solutions. We must protect our undocumented community members to ensure their safety and honor their diginity. We must protect all our community from exploitation, surveillance, and criminalization of our people and move to a place of care and shared well-being.
We call upon our elected officials to step into proactive, values-based leadership to pass policies that move our communities from vulnerable to thriving.
The time is now to be bold and utilize our collective power to change how our city and county is run and advance smart, community-based solutions to ensure we are all sustained and thriving. The time is now to advance systemic change to ensure that we all are cared for and protected now and far into the future. The time is now to build partnerships to strengthen our communities.
Right now, we must find immediate solutions.
Health & Safety
When it comes to health and safety, this crisis teaches us that we are all in this together. Oakland is stronger when we have safe streets, clean air, clean land and healthy food. We need policies that focus on the prevention of violence and illness, and guarantee a healthy and safe environment for everyone. In this moment of crisis, we must ensure access to information, free healthcare, and basic needs are provided. Our collective healing and mental health is and will be paramount as we move forward.
We all deserve to be healthy and safe.
Equitable access to information for all: Information provided by the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda should be available in multiple languages, in plain language and in formats accessible via screen readers. Recorded updates should be available by phone on a local or toll-free number for people who do not have internet or text access. All video materials should be captioned and audio transcribed. Information must also be provided to people in shelters, hospitals, long-term care facilities, prisons, and other facilities. Information should include prevention techniques, testing, official recommendations, updated statistics, safety net services, and other relevant updates.*
Immediate financial assistance to our most vulnerable populations: Financial assistance must be provided to all, not just those with social security numbers, in order to meet basic needs (i.e. food, water, and diapers, etc.). Special consideration should be given to undocumented immigrants who are excluded from state and federal government financial assistance programs, such as disability insurance and unemployment benefits. Support must be provided immediately and information to access financial assistance must be provided in multiple languages. Financial assistance must be provided throughout the duration of the shelter-in-place orders and while folks are reestablishing themselves post-crisis.
Free Healthcare for all: Healthcare must be provided for free to all. Free Covid-19 testing must be provided widely and accessible to all either thru drive-through or walk-up options. Medication and necessary medical supplies must be available to seniors, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, and others who have been ordered to stay home or for whom it is not safe or possible to go out. This includes unsheltered people. Alameda County must ratify and implement Measure C which recently passed by voter approval in March, to provide additional funds for pediatric trauma and healthcare.
Avenues for safety for victims of domestic violence: As many folks are unable to escape their abusers, there must be special consideration and services provided to shelters and support services for families with children experiencing violence and abuse in the home during these days of Shelter-in-Place.
Our policies need to protect our most precarious workforce and ensure folks are able to take time off from work to care for themselves and their families. We must enforce standing protections as well as expand to include lasting solutions.
We all deserve to work with dignity and living wage
All workers deserve a living wage and paid sick leave protections: The City of Oakland and the County of Alameda must require at least 14 days or more of paid leave that can be used for a public health emergency, allowing private and public sector full-time and part-time workers adequate time for critical needs, including 14 days of quarantine, care for a child whose school is closed, preventative actions like self-quarantine and social isolation for vulnerable older and disabled workers, or workplace closure due to public health order or guidance. This leave must be in addition to any existing sick or vacation leave. Meanwhile, enforcement of Oakland’s existing worker right’s laws including paid sick leave and healthcare security should be enforced with expedited procedures, and supported by increased funding for our Office of Labor Standards Enforcement. This includes the city pursuing aggressive enforcement against multi-billion dollar gig companies who are breaking local and state laws, depriving their workers of paid sick leave, healthcare, unemployment insurance and workers compensation and endangering their workers and our public health. Alameda County must create similar regular sick leave protections. We also demand to provide supplemental unemployment insurance in order to receive 80% of their standard pay. We must protect hourly precarious workers’ right to return to work once this crisis is over and those who continue to work through this crisis and are provided the proper personal protective equipment while on the job. All workers deserve a living wage, crisis or not, in order to provide for themselves and their families so in times of crisis they have a financial safety net.
For the foreseeable future, schools have been closed, and families are struggling to fill the void. While some families must continue to work, the need for safe affordable childcare is and will continue to grow exponentially during this crisis. We must find solutions to support families with children, particularly the unsheltered and those who must continue to work outside the home. All families need support and our most vulnerable communities such as the unsheltered and low-wage workers, in particular, need support to sustain their families.
ALL our families need support to thrive.
Additional childcare support and funding: Particularly for essential workers and those impacted by the school closures: The City of Oakland and Alameda County must consider providing additional support as well as providing childcare options to families. Alameda County must ratify and implement Measure C in order to open immediately funding streams that will help support childcare workers.
NO permanent school closures in Oakland: Prior to this crisis, Oakland endured the closure of several schools and we believe this is not the time for any additional school closures. We must pour our district resources into supporting families as they are now forced to homeschool their children. Students must be provided technology to access online and distance learning.
Housing and Homelessness
Housing is a human right, and during a pandemic, it is our first line of defense. For years we have been struggling with a housing affordability crisis. We must use this opportunity to move from temporary tweeks to find permanent housing solutions.
We ALL have a right to safe and stable housing.
A moratorium on evictions and rent during the entire crisis: While we applaud the Oakland’s City Council move to end evictions for non-payment temporarily, we are calling for a full moratorium on evictions, including all eviction court proceedings. Secure, private, and stable housing is essential to public health right now. The City of Oakland and the County of Alameda must follow in the footsteps of New York state and others to end all non-essential court proceedings, including a moratorium on all eviction proceedings and the filing of any new eviction related proceedings. We also applaud the Oakland City Council’s moratorium on sweeping of homeless encampments and towing vehicles used as primary residences.
Temporary and permanent housing solutions: Oakland must provide space for people who need to quarantine but cannot do so under their current living conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, people in encampments, SROs, shelters, prisons and jails, and other congregant living arrangements. People who may have been exposed to the virus should not be housed in SRO’s and sharing a bathroom with other people vulnerable to the virus, such as seniors and people with disabilities. All buildings with vacant units, empty hotel units, and unused peer-to-peer housing or apartments (such as Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.) must be released to house sick and at-risk people that otherwise do not have access to other private housing. Additionally, the city must not quarantine an entire congregant living facility (e.g. a shelter) together, but isolate sick people in private spaces. Large and medium-sized venues should be used only when smaller and more private options have been exhausted.* Special consideration must be made for families with children as hotel rooms are not permanent solutions. Permanent housing solutions must be provided for long-term stability of our communities.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, county officials have released more than 400 vulnerable people from Santa Rita Jail in the last week. Those released mostly include people with low-level offenses, as well as those who had 45 days or less to serve in jail, and those with underlying chronic health needs. As of March 25, 2020, there are 2,217 people still in custody at Santa Rita Jail who are at grave risk of being infected by COVID-19. Given what public health officials have warned, the consequence of county inaction on this urgent matter will be grave.
The health and safety of all incarcerated individuals living in cramped quarters and frontline health care workers must be an urgent priority to prevent the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Any policy or budget decision that prioritizes incarceration over healthcare will cause this public health crisis to worsen.**
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and Board of Supervisors to take prompt action: Alameda County must halt the intake and/or transfer of adults and youth into all county correctional facilities. Alameda County must immediately release those incarcerated from all correctional facilities, prioritizing the immediate release of those on pre-trial and people most vulnerable to COVID-19. Alameda County must meet the immediate health and sanitation needs of people who are currently incarcerated by providing protective equipment to all those incarcerated and jail staff. Alameda County must deny the Sheriff’s Office $85 million budget proposal and prioritize all investments towards health-affirming resources in the community. A full stop to new construction of prisons and jails such as Camp SweenySpecial consideration must be taken to release immigrant and asylum seekers from immigration detention centers.
We must defend ourselves and not allow this public health crisis to be used against our community or any other community, including people of Asian descent. Our solidarity should not be only with our families, our neighbors and the entire Latinx immigrant community; it must be with all the communities vulnerable to these attacks. ICE has announced that they will continue to make arrests in immigrant communities and the federal government has sent the National Guard to California.
Immigrant communities, both documented and undocumented, deserve the same care and precautions as everyone else.
Application and strengthening of sanctuary policies and protecting our communities from incarceration and deportation of our immigrant communities: This is not the time for business as usual. With the unsafe conditions in detention centers, we must focus our efforts on the health and well being of those currently detained and their release rather than focusing on continued arrest and incarceration. We must find solutions to strengthen our sanctuary policies so they are not just words on a paper but have actual protections to keep our communities safe.
Oakland, CA 94612
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