Department Of Violence Wont Solve Oakland’s Income Inequality Problem
The Department of Violence Prevention idea that the Oakland City Council will consider is intended to, well, hire someone that Oakland’s elected officials can blame for a problem that really is the fault of growing income inequality in our city.
The saddest evidence of this problem is in the unpredecented number of homeless people sleeping under freeways and on the streets of our town. Right now, just over one percent (1.02 percent) of Oakland’s adult population is homeless, which is my estimate based on East Oakland Community Project Alameda County estimates, with respect to Oakland’s percent share of that homeless population, divided by the total number of Oaklanders 18 and up.
Think about it. Right now, for every 100 Oaklanders, 1 is homeless. How large does the number have to grow to before we start doing something? 5? 10? 20? This is awful, to say the least.
How large does the problem have to get before Oakland’s politicians discover what every other Oaklander knows: our resources have to be focused on 1) creating more than affordable, but cheap housing, 2) more low-skilled jobs that pay a living wage, and 3) installing a “homeless prevention” grant program that the Oakland Rent Board can employ to help Oaklanders in need keep a roof over their heads?
I have brought my concerns to Oakland District 3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and we had a respectful exchange on Facebook, but I came away with the feeling that she’s so married to her singular idea, that she will not consider any adjustment in it. But the fact is, the way to reduce violence in Oakland, is to reduce the anxiety caused when people are threatened with job loss and eviction.
This is a fact that one does not need a “blue ribbon committee” to understand. In fact, it’s really embarassing to watch Oakland in effect sit back and create ideas that do nothing to solve the problem, but make it look like Oakland’s politicians are solving the problem.
Perhaps Oakland’s elected officials should actually go out and be with the homeless, as actvisit Ken Houston is doing as I write this. He’s going to remain out there on the street in East Oakland until concrete, real, action is taken. The Department of Violence Prevention will not at all prevent violence, let alone reduce it. But the department will add another government do-nothing office, and spend more taxpayer dollars – all so some Oakland politician can say “See! We’re doing something.”
Meanwhile, more Oaklanders are forced onto the streets.