high-up photo of crane in the foreground. city buildings in the background
Build more cottages; provide portable toilets at homeless camps; deal with dangerous infrastructure. Community members have lots of idea for improving housing conditions in Oakland this year. Credit: Amir Aziz

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Oakland’s interlocking housing and homelessness crises are so enormous that they can feel insurmountable. But throughout the city, there are thousands of people working to improve their own circumstances and those of their neighbors, and lots of activists, advocates, policymakers, planners, and builders trying to make change on a larger scale, too.

We reached out to a few of the people immersed in questions of housing and homelessness in Oakland, and asked them to send us concrete, achievable goals and hopes for the city—New Year’s resolutions, if you will—for improving conditions around housing and homelessness in 2022. 

Some shared nitty-gritty policies they’d like to see passed. Others shared broader aspirations for their fellow community members. And some shared their own organization’s goals for the year.

Here’s what they had to say.  

Gloria Bruce, East Bay Housing Organizations

“The Oakland City Council will adopt a strong public lands ordinance, letting the people have a say on how public land will be used for public good. When it’s adopted it will create a clearer path for public lands to be used to house those who need it most.” 

Derek Barnes, East Bay Rental Housing Association

“Institute policies that regularly audit, standardize, and streamline permitting/approval processes to build more affordable housing developments, convert existing commercial properties, and fast-track construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units—reducing the time to complete these projects by at least 50%.”

Curtis James, Lake Merritt Lodge staff and former Operation HomeBase resident

“I hope that regardless of their situation, their race, or their culture, for the people who take the necessary steps and go through the right channels, that they’re able to get a place to stay. I want people to be able to get the help they need to stay off the streets, because having a place to stay helps give you peace of mind.”

Katie Ackerly, David Baker Architects

“In 2022, we hope to bring attention and action to the infrastructure systems in Oakland that are failing—particularly those in systemically under-served neighborhoods. Bringing these systems—such as sewer pipes and roads—up to date is critical to creating healthy, functional housing that is resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

John Minot, East Bay for Everyone

“Oakland could provide a new model for the state by looking beyond duplexes and ADUs to an inclusive, sustainable housing type that is welcoming to all. The city should bring residents and experts together to craft a pre-approved template for an ‘upper missing middle’ building that: holds 6-10 homes; can fit on most single-family lots; guarantees existing tenants the right to return at same rent plus rental assistance during construction; allows owners to receive 2+ units as payment via a ‘land swap’ model; has ADA-accessible units; and is energy-efficient. Oakland can make new housing equitable by design, but the private market will not go there quickly unless the city points the way.”

Talya Husbands-Hankin, Love and Justice in the Streets

“My wish for Oakland in this new year is that human rights will be uplifted. That access to water, food, sanitation and shelter will be made available for everyone in our community.”

Dan Sawislak, Resources for Community Development

“In 2022, RCD will welcome 59 households to Coliseum Place, our newest 100% affordable housing community located across from the Coliseum BART station in Oakland. For 12+ households, these new apartments mark the end to a sustained period of homelessness and the beginning of a new, more stable chapter. Our goal is to have Coliseum Place fully occupied by spring 2022 and to help all residents transition smoothly into their new homes by providing on-site supportive services.”

Eddie Ytuarte, Oakland Tenants Union

“I would like to see the Oakland Tenants Union, allied community organizations, and the city of Oakland do the utmost in informing Oakland tenants of the relevant laws and solutions in dealing with abusive landlords and property management companies.”

Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie lives in Oakland, grew up in Berkeley, and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.