By the Homeless Action Committee
In the second Passover of this pandemic we are called once again to open the door for the hungry to join us, and though our quarantine restricts us from literally inviting others in, it is pertinent that we take actions within our means to address the ongoing plagues. The COVID-19 virus is only a recent addition which exacerbates the deeply rooted and interconnected plagues of white supremacy, capitalism, colonialism, ableism, gender and sexual oppression. Each plague feeds into the other and targets the entirety of one’s well-being.
With crowded and unsanitary living conditions, poor access to medical care, rising cost of living, ongoing criminalization, and a pandemic which threatens to aggravate already strained bodies and minds, the unhoused population of Oakland, estimated in the thousands, struggles within the intersections of all these plagues and feels their effects most strongly: Black people are 70% of the unsheltered, Indigenous people 4% (compared to 1% of the general population), the disabled 38%, and the LGBTQ2s+ who make up 16% are all disproportionately represented among the unsheltered.
While for the duration of this pandemic the doors of our homes must remain closed, let us be continually observant for the “doors” which we can open: donating money, time, or unused blankets, toiletries, and food; staying up to date with local organizations working directly to address the material needs of the unsheltered like Love and Justice in the Streets, East Oakland Collective, and St. Mary’s Center; and initiating dialogue with those around us, including our unsheltered neighbors. As we recall wandering through the desert without the security of walls around us, we affirm the dignity and Human Rights of those without such security.