Establish funded positions that proactively engage the resident communities, including student residents, and identity groups. These positions can help ensure resident needs are integrated into decision-making processes, directly connected to services, take special focus on seniors and other community segments, connect with and facilitate community organizing, and be tailored to expressed community needs.
- Areas of the neighborhood have different needs and different capacities to represent these needs in public forums and decision-making processes.
- Lower capacity in traditionally marginalized areas acts to further inequities, particularly for Oakland’s African-American community.
- Needs to be awareness raising about what services are needed and also available already.
- Residents have raised the issue that displacement is happening in some cases because residents are unable to take advantage of existing programs that would help to keep them in their home. For example, home repair programs exist but require bids from contractors and other initial steps that have been difficult for the most needy residents. The inability to make basic maintenance repairs coupled with predatory buyers is speeding up displacement.
- Seniors in general could benefit from dedicated community organizers who can connect them with resources and help to seek out and develop needed programs and opportunities.
- City and non-profit projects have struggled to engage residents meaningfully in processes, and while more work can be done to improve outreach, grassroots organizing would complement these efforts and ensure a more representative voice is presented on behalf the resident community.
- Question of whether students and other renters feel comfortable representing their needs and engaging with decision-making processes as temporary residents and whether this limits the ability of Oakland to move new ideas forward.
- OPDC offers a home repair program for seniors and is an administrator for the URA HAP.
- Establish paid professional community organizing positions to proactively engage residents in specific areas.
- Develop a role for these staff to play in addressing socioeconomic and racial inequities in these areas in partnership with other organizations, institutions, and public agencies.
- Identify a location for them to be housed, such as a citywide non-profit, at the City of Pittsburgh, or an Oakland-based non-profit. The location where they are based and the funding for their positions could relate to the mandate they have in their work, the response from community members, and the kinds of initiatives they undertake.
- Consider how these paid staff can engage with existing boards and decision-making processes.
- An important aspect of the work of these positions will be to actively canvass the community about various projects and topics that are relevant at the time. This should lead to a better understanding of the true nature of consensus in the community.
- There should be a preference for hiring residents from each community into these positions. In hiring a local resident, it’s important that they can clearly show how they are able to represent the diverse needs of their resident community. It must be avoided that they only represent the resident groups to which they are already members.
When to start: 0-2 years
Estimated costs: $$ (out of $$$$)
Project lead(s): OPDC, DCP
Project partner(s): Foundations, institution
Potential funding source(s): Community Reinvestment Fund, institutions, foundations