Additional Resource

Latter-day Saints Lend a Helping Hand to Oakland’s Homeless Population

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently partnered with Oakland, California, government officials and two local organizations to help alleviate the city’s homelessness crisis. Recent data shows a significant increase in the homeless population in the past two years.

 

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To help accomplish the goal, Latter-day Saints Charities donated $25,000 for the construction of nine housing units in two one-acre cabin communities on Mandela Parkway (Mandela Parkway is a major north-south median-divided street in West Oakland).

"What the Church has done is make a donation to the next community cabin site that we'll be opening to help us purchase more cabins for that site and provide shelters to folks there," explained Katie Derrig, development and contracts manager at Operation Dignity.

Derrig added that these communities provide tenants with basic needs and housing for up to six months, giving individuals time to work with a case manager who assists them with the transition to permanent housing.

“This is one of the interventions that the City of Oakland is working on to help what really is a crisis of homelessness here,” said Derrig.

                            

“These will be our fifth and sixth community cabin sites at this location,” said Lara Tannenbaum, Human Services manager for the City of Oakland. “We’ll be able to house about 76 people here in total.”

Tannenbaum indicated that interim housing is constructed in hopes of helping clear the homeless encampments located in the area while providing unsheltered persons with access to clothing, food, hygiene supplies and mental health and addiction recovery resources, as well as health care.

According to Tannenbaum, residents will also have access to flexible housing funds to assist them as they work to stabilize their housing situation.

                              

Greg Call, a member of one of Oakland’s Latter-day Saint congregations, shared that members in the area have extended a helping hand to the non-profit organizations in other ways, including vehicle donations, service and obtaining Church humanitarian grants.

Call said that the additional funding enabled local Latter-day Saints to provide additional support to the Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (ECAP), a major supplier of food for the homeless,with the purchase of two refrigeration appliances.

“It used to be that [the nonprofit organizations] had to get rid of the food immediately because they had no way to preserve it, but through Church humanitarian grants, the freezers from ECAP are able to preserve food for distribution while it’s still fresh,” said Call.

Bobby Miller, ECAP operations manager, explained, “We’re feeding up to about a thousand people… six days a week. We’re distributing approximately 25 tons of food on a weekly basis.”

Darryl Rains, president of the Oakland Stake (similar toa diocese), expressed appreciation for the collaboration with the city, Operation Dignity and ECAP.

“If you drive through some parts of Oakland, you see people living on the streets, living in tents, living under underpasses,” said Rains. “We are happy to be able to work with those most in need, with those in our community, by partnering with really wonderful and talented people who are committed to serving the homeless and the poor.”

“We’re also really happy for this partnership and just want to thank all of the Church members for helping to make this possible,” expressed Tannenbaum, on behalf of the City of Oakland.

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