West Oakland Fire Relief Benefit

For: Survivors of Fire at 2551 San Pablo
Oakland, CA
Organizer: Oakland Warehouse Coalition
West Oakland Fire Relief Benefit (Survivors of Fire at 2551 San Pablo)
$41,184
of $50,000 goal.
Raised by 611 donors
82% Complete
This fundraiser is not active at this time.

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:
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 May 30, 2017

Posted on May 30, 2017

Hello Donors –

Thank you so much for your kindness.  The fundraiser is now closed.  

We will be doing our second/final round of disbursement beginning Thursday, and will reach out to the 103 check recipients via mass text and some phone calls tomorrow, Tuesday. This is the letter that they will receive, in addition to disbursement location and details.  It contains a full accounting of the fundraiser on page two.

A big shout-out to Teresa Johns and Jon Axtell, without whom this fundraiser could not possibly have been executed.  The three of us are deeply indebted to the many members of the 2551 San Pablo community who were kind enough to give us all of the details about residency and building troubles that they could remember.  We are so grateful to them for helping make this as accurate as it can be.

We'll do an update to wrap it up here once Round Two disbursement is complete.

– Jonah

Posted on May 14, 2017

Posted on May 14, 2017

Hello Donors and Visitors! 

Thank you so much for your support.  We are pleased to announce that our Round One disbursement is complete, and we are looking forward to Round Two.  In order to enable a Round Two that will disburse the fund entirely to $0, we will be closing the fundraiser on May 27, which is two months post-fire.  We expect to be able to conduct Round Two disbursement rapidly at that time.  Please share this page and encourage your friends to donate.

This past month-and-a-half has been a whirlwind, with daily successes and setbacks in the disbursement process.  We have done major community sourcing of residency data.  It disappointing that we still have no access to either the Code Enforcement Relocation Program or Red Cross lists, and that both the City of Oakland and the Red Cross have seemingly insurmountable legal barriers to the sharing of information – which is ironic since we believe that our survivor contact list is more accurate than either of theirs at this point. 

Early on, when presented with a large number of hangers-on and a moral imperative to get checks cut rapidly, we disbursed to some people who were later determined to have not lived in the building at time of fire; but through informal cross-checking, it appears that both the City and Red Cross lists also contain mistakes.  No aid organization has been able to determine with 100% accuracy who lived in the building at time of fire. 

We stand behind our "confirmed" list moving forward, and we will advocate for the survivors on said list who did not receive Code Enforcement Relocation Program funds, or who have been cut out of other fundraisers due to reliance solely on Red Cross data.  We unfortunately do not have the bandwidth to advocate for funds or social services for people who are not on our "confirmed" list, even though some of those people are in terrible situations and are very deserving of help.

Round One disbursement was 120 checks written for $228.11, for a total of $27,373.20.
  • 103 people received checks and are confirmed as living in the building at time of fire
  • 16 people received checks whom we believe to have not lived in the building at time of fire
  • 1 person received a check by impersonating a confirmed resident
  • We turned away 16 people without disbursement whose stories were unverifiable
  • There were 6 people who possibly lived there, are not-quite-confirmed, but regardless chose not to pursue a check from us
Thus, Round Two is projected to be divided by 103 people, and we do reserve the right to make adjustments as new information arises.

Thank you again, and please share this fundraiser widely.  These folks need our continued support.  For every resident who has found permanent housing, there is one very near to being on the street – and some indeed are.

– Jonah

Posted on April 15, 2017

UpdateImage

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

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