Oakland Residents Fight for Their Tiny Homes

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As the Moms4Housing celebrate their victory Monday, residents of another Oakland homeless project hope tiny houses built by volunteers over the holiday weekend won’t be knocked down by city bulldozers.

Volunteers say they can’t think of a better way to address the issue that tugs at their hearts every day, and residents worry they’ll get kicked out like they have so many times in the past.

“If they don’t want us here, the next piece of property that’s open, that’s where we’re going to have to go,” said Brent Ship, Oakland Tiny Home Village resident.

Shipp hope the tiny house village volunteers are building at 16th Avenue by Highway 880 stays up.

“That’s like the most inspirational work I can think about doing on an MLK weekend,” said volunteer Gabriel Kahn.

Needa Bee organized the effort through her nonprofit The Village. She said council president Rebecca Kaplan and council member Nikki Fortunato Bas have helped get this village off the ground by going door-to-door to drum up support and swinging hammers to put up walls. She blames the mayor for others being torn down.

“It’s the responsibility of the bureaucracy to provide housing when it’s not available, and we don’t see Oakland doing that,” she said. “I think The Mayor’s agenda around homelessness is to make homeless people invisible.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf stands by prior enforcement decisions saying Oakland has won all five times it’s been challenged in court.

“We will not treat this encampment any differently than we treat any other encampment,” Schaff said. “We will assess it based on that criteria and moved forward accordingly.”

Shipp said he would ask the mayor to put herself in their shoes and that at any moment, anyone can be in that situation.

Shipp lived in one of the tiny homes that was torn down and said it was devastating to see the home bulldozed. He has now rebuilt with volunteers.

He said residents are trying to come up with a name for the community and working together to police not only crime but garbage in the area.

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