Call for Withdrawal Affects Community

 

It’s time to withdraw the initiative that would keep medically fragile homeless seniors on our streets and away from lifesaving medical care  At its Tuesday, Jan. 2, meeting, the City Council will be obligated to schedule an election that will determine the fate of a new planned Wellness Center in Alameda. The cost of the election alone could be anywhere from $500,000 to $700,000. If passed, the ballot measure would rezone the property designated for the Wellness Center such that existing unused and surplus federal buildings at McKay Ave. could no longer be repurposed for providing critically needed health and housing services to medically frail homeless.

The Alameda Point Collaborative, (APC) a local nonprofit has already successfully applied to the federal government for use of the property to establish the Alameda Wellness Center, a safe protected campus to provide housing for fragile homeless elders, medical support for homeless residents being discharged from the hospital or undergoing chemotherapy or dialysis and needing after care, and resources and housing referrals for Alameda families at-risk of or becoming homeless.

Many are veterans still recovering from the trauma of war.  The property will be rehabilitated at no cost to the city or its residents and will, in fact, result in substantial savings to Alameda’s emergency services and hospitals. Alameda prides itself on being a place where “everyone belongs here.” The APC wellness center has broad support from local residents, including those living near the project, businesses, clergy from congregations throughout Alameda, organizations supporting at-risk families and veterans and city leaders. 

We see this project as critically needed to help address our homelessness and housing crises. Providing much needed services to the frailest among us at no cost to taxpayers is the moral thing to do, and preventing the spread of infectious. Preventable diseases is the practical thing to do. We all deserve to live our golden years in dignity.

The initiative, if passed, would stop the wellness center, keeping medically fragile homeless seniors on our streets and away from supportive housing and care. It is bankrolled by a small group of homeowners near the property. Furthermore, the initiative will not result in any additional parkland or other tangible use being created but would instead burden the city and its taxpayers (us) with either blighted buildings or tens of millions of dollars in costs to demolish existing buildings that could otherwise be put to worthwhile use.

The city would have to cut existing services, and potentially stop work on other parks under development such as Jean Sweeney Park. The initiative to stop the Wellness Center is inhumane and pointlessly expensive, and we ask its authors to be good neighbors and compassionate Alamedans and pull it out of consideration on or before Jan. 2.

This letter represent thousands of families, students, parishioners and neighbors standing together to say that we strongly oppose the initiative to stop the APC Wellness Center by rezoning the site as open space. We are prepared to win at the ballot box, but we would rather appeal to the compassion and humanity of the sponsors and funders of this initiative: do the right and moral thing and withdraw the initiative.

 

Doug Biggs is the executive director of APC. 

Editor's Note: My name is Dennis, and I’m an alcoholic. I suffered from the disease until Feb. 8, 1985, my sobriety date. I took great offense hearing something at two separate locations where signatures were being gathered to put this measure on the ballot. “We don’t want our kids around those alcoholics,” the signatures gatherers said. I stopped dead in my tracks the first time I heard this. The second time I stayed around and listened to more of what the gatherer’s had to say in what I considered pretty disgusting NIMBY language. 

I am also a veteran. I wonder sometimes what I would do if I were homeless. It was very obvious to me that the signature gatherers, who also disparaged the homeless would have little compassion for me, either as an alcoholic — recovering or not — or as a homeless person, never mind that I had served my country. 

In my opinion, this is a heartless, soulless petition that now — if Alamedans do nothing — will come before the voters in a very expensive waste of time and your money. 

I encourage you to read a well-balanced explanation of the Wellness Center project at crownharbor.org/center.html, sign the above letter at caringalameda.org/letter-to-the-community and contact the City Council about this pressing matter.
Dennis Evanosky, Co-publisher, Alameda Sun.