Neighbors Together Oakland (NTO) is dedicated to building unity and preparedness in Oakland neighborhoods. We work to create an Oakland where there are no “good neighborhoods” and “bad neighborhoods” but a beautiful city throughout. Our tenets are: community safety, localized agricultural systems, accessible housing and thriving local businesses.
NTO is a post-partisan solutionary movement. We work diligently to manifest and grow our community, repairing the damaged fences of trust that have long since rusted in our beloved town. It’s not easy work, and we expect to have some hard conversations that are sorely needed between Oakland neighbors. We must destroy our echo chambers and come to solutions together.
As neighbors and a community, we have decided that NOW is the time for mobilization towards community resilience, and re-envisioning prosperity for our town. Oakland has been under long-standing pressure from crime, depleted infrastructure (e.g. food deserts, small business closures, etc.) and housing shortages. The Covid pandemic has only exacerbated these realities for Oaklanders, making it ever more urgent that course corrections be made in order to ensure a brighter and sustainable future for ourselves.
NTO was born in Bottoms Up Community Garden (BUCG) in West Oakland’s Lower Bottoms. BUCG works to create localized agricultural systems to improve our community’s health, nutrition and biodiversity. Our garden has been featured on the PBS show “The Original Fare”, MAKE Community magazine, Oakland Museum of Art and so much more! We know that growing food and raising animals brings neighbors together in the best ways possible.
Oakland, like many American cities, is currently in a full blown homeless crisis. Encampments have grown both in size and numbers. NTO’s first initiative, “TOWN SWEEP” is about Oakland neighbors taking personal responsibility to help clean up their immediate neighborhoods. NTO will be filing a Writ of Mandamus against the City of Oakland demanding that it immediately identify housing solutions and implement the Encampment Management Plan (EMP) that was unanimously approved by the City Council last October. We will also be circulating a petition across the city to support these demands.
The EMP, as it’s drafted, does not propose encampment closures without the offer of housing to inhabitants. To this end, NTO believes that proposed housing can also include non-traditional housing options like our Neighborship Tiny home village nearby the BUCG. To NTO, re-housing options should endeavor to provide rodent-proof structures, heat, electricity, running hot water, toilets and a functional kitchen.
The EMP is first and foremost a management policy, balancing the needs of both housed and unhouse neighbors in regards to keeping existing encampments safe and free from crime and squalor. With 70% of our unhoused neighbors experiencing various degrees of drug addiction and mental illness, we must not allow these vulnerable neighbors to fend for themselves against drug dealers and criminals. The City has failed us. Our current hands-off approach to encampment management must end now. We demand better leadership from our elected officials.
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