Union Point on the Rise will soon be Oakland’s first co-governed cottage community

Every Tuesday, the members of Union Point on the rise, a community of 16 homeless people, gather on the patio of their current residence, the Travel Inn on MacArthur Boulevard. In a circle of mismatched chairs, they discuss design, management, and the rules of their future home at Lakeview Village – the first co-governed housing settlement in Oakland.

Spanning the 12th Street block between First and Second Avenues, Lakeview Village is a project to relocate 65 non-housed neighbors in temporary huts bought by the city Palette. Unlike most community chalet structures, these shelters include locks, are connected to electricity and are single occupancy units.

The site is divided into two distinct communities separated by a chain-link fence: a community of 55 units managed by the East Bay Housing Consortium which will open next week, and the co-managed community of 16 UPOR units which may not open until next year.

Oakland City Council Chairman Nikki Fortunato Bas held an open house for the site on Monday, inviting reporters and neighbors to visit. She announced the formation of a community council for Lakeview Village, where organizations and residents from both sites can come together and talk about the community.

The city is excited to launch a co-governed model, which empowers residents to control their community and equips them with management skills. The model requires more planning than traditional shelters and strong community ties to be successful.

“One of the things that I think is really critical about co-governed settlements is the fact that there is an established community that has a relationship with each other,” Bas said in a previous interview.

Co-governed settlements empower residents while eliminating the threat of displacement. Residents agree on how they will live in a community setting, selecting leaders, managing the site, developing community expectations and determining who participates.

“The residents are in control,” said Adam Garrett-Clark, founder of Little logic, a not-for-profit organization that acts as an operations support and a go-anywhere for money, and holds insurance for UPOR. Tiny Logic will be in the passenger seat, with the city in a back seat.

A case study on the co-governance carried out by the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, found it to be attractive for a variety of reasons. Existing shelters may not offer flexibility for many, including couples, residents with pets, or people who work nights. Additionally, individuals may feel limited without any control over shelter policies and regulations.

My dogs are my babies, they are my children. I can’t let go, ”said UPOR member Lucy Brum. Unlike typical shelters, in Lakeview residents can have up to three dogs.

Strict visitation policies have also prevented Brum from living in shelters. “It’s what keeps you alive. To have friends and to have people who come to see you, ”she said.

The community decided to call themselves Union Point on the Rise, as it was initially a group of people living along the waterfront at Union Point Park. Member Mike Newman said some people had lived in the park for 10 years or more and had met a lot of them before being dislodged. They have developed strong bonds, caring for each other, preventing theft and maintaining safety in the community.

This unit prompted park residents to resist expulsion in February. They presented a list of demands and eventually made an agreement with the city to secure temporary accommodation in hotel rooms until a location could be provided, where they could reside as a community for three to three. five years.

Bottom pushed to use long vacant public plot by Lake Merritt to meet urgent housing needs, while developer of a long-delayed housing development is trying to get funding by February 15th. If funding is granted, construction could begin as early as next year, in which case the city has promised to relocate all residents of Lakeview Village.

On a larger scale, the Housing Consortium of the East Bay will provide its residents with trauma-informed and harm reduction services in three key areas: health, mental health and addiction issues. Social workers will help residents find employment and permanent accommodation. The site has its own address, which helps alleviate the problems faced by homeless people when applying for jobs or services.

The city allocated $ 350,000 to UPOR to design the site, which residents decided to set up for showers and a central communal dome with a kitchen, Garrett-Clark said.

Some aspects of the project, however, have been beyond the control of the residents. The designs of the shelters are much smaller than what they requested.

“It’s like we live in a closet,” said UPOR member Deanna Riley..

And residents were not consulted on the site selection, which Riley is also not happy with, as her son was murdered across the street.

I have to relive this every day, and it’s not fair, ”she said. But where should I go?

During the UPOR weekly meeting, Garrett-Clark asked residents what they thought the success of the program looked like. Responses ranged from finding work, to securing permanent housing, to creating a model that could be replicated for future groups.

“I hope to get permanent accommodation. It’s a stepping stone, ”Newman said. “I don’t want to go back or regress. I don’t want to go back.

Village with lake view
site plan of the village of Lakeview; The 55 units of HBEC are on the left; The 15 of the UPOR are on the right (Semantha Norris)
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