West Oakland Fire Relief Benefit

For: Survivors of Fire at 2551 San Pablo
Oakland, CA
Organizer: Oakland Warehouse Coalition
$39,222
of $50,000 goal.
Raised by 591 donors
78% Complete
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The Story

In the early morning hours of Monday, March 27th, a four-alarm fire erupted at the large multi-tenant building at 2551 San Pablo.  There were four fatalities.

The building was primarily a home for extremely low-income people of color, about half of whom were supported by Urojas Community Services, a faith-based resource "to empower communities and individuals by providing access to health services, including mental health, housing and education, with a focus on re-entry and veterans."  The building was in poor repair and the building's manager had been recently applying pressure to the tenants.

One of the agencies providing support post-fire is the faith-based Healthy Communities, Inc., whose mission is "to decrease violence and health disparities in the community while at the same time identify and support opportunities to build the economy through jobs, training, and community action, community development and beautification."

Oakland Warehouse Coalition was founded immediately after the Ghost Ship fire in December, to advocate for the rights of low-income tenants living and working in commercial and industrial spaces.  We operate on an entirely volunteer basis, and are very active in both direct tenant advocacy and legislative reform.  As representatives of the live/work community, we stand in solidarity with the survivors of this fire.  Most people who lived in the building have very few resources, minimal savings, and in this time of dire housing crisis have few options for permanent rehousing.  It is imperative that all Oaklanders support these folks in their time of need.  Let us stand together.

All funds gathered will be delivered directly to survivors, with the assistance of Urojas and Healthy Communities, to assist folks needing immediate housing, clothing, food, and support. There will not be the delay in disbursement experienced by the community affected by the Ghost Ship fire; rapid action, transparency, and accountability is assured.  The fund is set up to transfer its balance weekly into a real bank account, from which checks may be written.  Division of funds is primarily based on the "one person, one share, divided equally" method, which streamlines both the intake and disbursement process.

We are unable to provide a tax deduction for your donation at this time, but we will provide an update.  If you wish to make a donation above $500 and this is a hindrance, please message us through this page and we'll work it out.

Help these vulnerable tenants rebuild their lives.

Initiated 3/27/17
Updated 4/1/17

Physical checks may be written to "Oakland Warehouse Coalition" with the Memo "West Oakland Fire Relief."  Our mailing address is:
Oakland Warehouse Coalition
P.O. Box 32254
Oakland, CA 94604

We can also receive PayPal at [email protected] Please include the note "West Oakland Fire Relief."


______________________________________


Oakland Warehouse Coalition:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • [email protected]
Urojas:
Healthy Communities:

_____________________________


Jonah Strauss lived and worked around the corner on 24th Street from October 2004 to March 2015, when the unit above his burned and his recording studio was flooded.  He moved his studio four blocks north to 28th Street.  He is committed to helping keep one of the last majority-POC areas of West Oakland racially, culturally, and economically diverse.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on April 15, 2017

Posted on April 15, 2017

Hello Supporters!

We held another disbursement session on Wednesday at the West Oakland location that is being used to store and distribute clothing to survivors and community members in need.  We have since moved on to check delivery.  We are currently 80% disbursed on Round 1, all checks are still $228.11, and we're hoping to be able to do a comparable Round 2.  However, we can't do it without your help. 

If you haven't shared the fundraiser on your personal Facebook page, on pages you manage, and on email lists to which you subscribe, please do!  We need all the support we can get in our mission to help these Oakland residents on the edge.  It is very clear that many former residents are reeling from the fire; there are folks who are being serviced by churches, and folks who receive support from the State, but the majority have nowhere to turn for significantly-below-market housing.  Time in motels is running out, people are highly at risk sleeping in cars, and couches are scarce.  Cash at this time is crucial.

We are pleased to announce that Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan has made the gracious donation of two Luxury Suite tickets to Game Two of the Warriors v. Trailblazers Playoffs, on Wednesday night at 7:30pm.  Please help get the word out.  Bidding starts at the tickets' fair market value of $10,000, and closes Tuesday at 5pm.  Here's that link:  2 Luxury Suite Tickets to Dubs v. Trailblazers

Posted on April 10, 2017

Posted on April 10, 2017

The Good News:Today, we handed out 65 checks at $228.11 apiece, at the West Oakland location that is being turned into a free store with all the clothing and goods donations.  We have 116 people on our list as of end of day today. Some folks were unavailable over the weekend, and we'll be setting up another disbursement day shortly.  Some folks haven't returned our calls or have bad numbers, and some folks have neither case managers nor cell phones.  We've spoken with many community members in an effort to find the people who are unreachable.  Most are likely to come to our attention soon.

The Bad News:More than a few people had to cash their checks today (Sunday), at a check casher's, in order to have money for a motel room tonight.  This was very revealing: people are living day-to-day, and whatever money comes in is immediately used for shelter.  A lot of people were coming from homeless missions.  There are also folks with more family or community resources, and some families have been placed in temporary apartments.  The most fortunate have been given 90 days.

The Ask:Please help us find new ways to spread the word and draw in funding.  The initial meager funds provided by the Red Cross have run out, and there is no fixed timeline on which the newly minted Presbyterian Church fundraiser will disburse.  It appears that that one will be gathering the sports teams' money and similar large donors, by suggestion of Mayor Schaaf.  While we are confident in that team's experience, intent, and long-term support for this community, we here at Oakland Warehouse Coalition have the ability to disburse nearly immediately, and we hope our West Oakland Fire Relief Benefit gains steam as a result.

The Details:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

To: Residents of 2551 San Pablo Avenue

We are here to express our support and solidarity.

Since the Ghost Ship fire of December 2, 2016, Oakland Warehouse Coalition has been working tirelessly within the live/work community, and with City Council and Administration, to protect and strengthen the rights of low-income tenants. Jonah Strauss, who runs the Coalition, lived and worked from 2004-2015 in the unit directly below the March 21, 2015 fire at 669/671 24th Street, between San Pablo and MLK.

We started an online fundraiser at 10:30am on the morning of the fire. As of today, the total raised is $29,650. https://www.youcaring.com/survivorsoffireat2551sanpablo-785311. The unavoidable payment processing service that transfers the money into the OWC account removes 3.2% of donations as a fee. Additionally, transfers to the account are not immediate – they appear to take about two business days. As of Friday, April 7, the amount in the account available for disbursal was $26,917.23, which is what we are disbursing in this first round of checks.

The Red Cross did intake for approximately 220 people at the West Oakland Youth Center. The City Administrator has identified 118 people as having lived in the building at time of fire, which we believe to be slightly higher than the actual count. We have been unable to gather any personal information from either the Red Cross or the City Administrator due to confidentiality regulations, which are different for each organization. Therefore, you are identified as a tenant of the building based on information drawn from your own community: Urojas employees, disaster recovery volunteers, and your neighbors in the building. We have a verified count of 108 tenants (this was written before disbursement began), but we are working with the City Administrator’s number of 118 for now. Our verified count will shift slightly in the coming week, and when we get to the second round of checks we will adjust the math to make sure everyone gets the exact correct share.

This first round of checks is $26,917.23 available ÷ 118 theoretical tenants = $228.11 per person. Parents/guardians will receive their childrens’ checks with their childrens’ names in the Memo line.

(This is followed by details on where they can cash these specific checks for free, with relaxed ID requirements, and without built-in reporting obligations.)


Posted on April 5, 2017

Posted on April 5, 2017

Physical checks may be written to "Oakland Warehouse Coalition" with the Memo "West Oakland Fire Relief."  Our mailing address is:
Oakland Warehouse Coalition
P.O. Box 32254
Oakland, CA 94604

We can also receive PayPal at [email protected] Please include the note "West Oakland Fire Relief."

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