Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Abigail McMurry, Acting President of Associated Students of Laney College, spoke against last-minute class cancellations at the May 14 Board of Trustees meeting.
Class cancellations, basic needs, and 'flying pigs' at 5/14 meeting for PCCD Trustees
Ian Waters, News Editor • June 1, 2024
Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
After two years of acting appointments, the College of Alameda will finally fill the presidency with a permanent hire this summer
Ivan Saravia, Staff Writer • May 23, 2024
College of Alameda jazz professor Glen Pearson demonstrates his musical talent on his classroom piano. Hes one of the newest members of the Count Basie Orchestra, a historic 18-piece jazz ensemble that took home a Grammy this year.
The humble Grammy-winning pianist leading CoA’s music program
Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • March 4, 2024

    “Mommy, what’s a Tuff Shed?”

    Peter Brown is a Laney sculpture student and retired instructor. Here he is speaking at the Poor People’s Campaign Teach-in held at the Laney Student Center on Oct. 31.

    by Peter Brown

    With over 2,000 human beings living in our streets, the City of Oakland has started installing Tuff Sheds (pre-fab utility sheds) at several of the 200+ tent camps as a “temporary solution to the housing crisis.”

    Some politicians are also touting “Tiny Homes” as a possible solution to the same housing crisis, and propose parking them in church parking lots.

    Great ideas! Many people would be happy to have any kind of roof over their head rather than living outside unprotected. Also, Tiny Homes are a creative part of the “downsizing” movement; many youth interested in sustainability, engineering, design & construction are drawn to this anti-consumerism movement.

    So what’s wrong with this picture?

    Oakland mayor poses in front of condos and Tuff Sheds, “Oakland Tuff” is a play on Libby Schaaf’s campaign slogan “Oakland Tough.” Comic by Michelle Snider, Editor-in-Chief, Laney Tower.

    First, homelessness isn’t a “housing” problem; there’s no shortage of homes in Oakland. City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan documented 5,000 vacant housing units in Oakland. People have been evicted from homes, unable to earn enough with shrinking wages and skyrocketing rents created by artificial scarcity.

    Second, Tuff Sheds are used by Oakland’s government to cover up their true plan to harass, evict and export people and families who have been evicted from existing homes in Oakland to make billionaires richer.

    Actions speak louder than words; despite fine speeches, when the city puts up Tuff Sheds at a camp and they’re filled, anyone left over gets evicted. And there are never enough for everyone. Such actions show that Sheds are used as an eviction tool, and a tool to “normalize” homelessness, making it appear morally acceptable but doing nothing to end it. An Uber driver I know delivers riders to “The Sheds,” a new neighborhood in Oakland with barbed wire, cameras & curfews.

    What could the City do to house all the people living outside? Whatever the reasons homes are sitting vacant, Oakland could use eminent domain laws to make them public and make them available, even employ. The homeless to rehabilitate housing. The city could even pass ordinances against keeping housing vacant to drive rents up; then, just as Jerry Brown did with “drug dealers,” the city could seize property from criminal investors who prey on the poor. Homeless leaders have already demanded the city use eminent domain; this can be fought for.

    Is it likely mayor Libby Schaaf will do either of these or take any serious steps to end this rapidly growing suffering? The Schaaf regime has shown the same loyal dedication to billionaire investors that Jerry Brown did as mayor, and what else would she do?

    Her main source of support are those investors and global corporations.

    They pay her way, and pave her political path — they can also ruin it.

    They won’t reward her for cutting into corporate profits to support workers they’ll never employ and have no use for…it will take a new force, a new kind of politics, a whole new kind of government to set this right. We the people are that new force. We can create a new kind of government where no one can be evicted from their home!

    Peter Brown is a recently retired Laney instructor, and a member of the Laney College Poor People’s Campaign/Teach-in Committee.

    This article originally appeared in The People’s Tribune.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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