Current Mayor Ashcraft Backs Measure A

 

I am fortunate serve as the Mayor of a compassionate, caring city. Alamedans look out for others, even those we don’t know, as shown by the outpouring of assistance for Coast Guard personnel and families during the federal government shutdown, then enthusiastic support for the warming shelter at Christ Episcopal Church, volunteers who deliver Meals on Wheels and serve at the Alameda Food Bank, and the community-wide effort to save our animal shelter.

Today I seek your compassion and care to address one of our city’s most compelling challenges — homelessness, by voting “yes” on Measure A and “no” on Measure B on April 9 to support the proposed Alameda Wellness Center. This project will convert abandoned federal buildings to life-changing uses for medically frail homeless seniors and Alameda residents at risk of becoming homeless.

As Alameda’s representative on the League of California Cities and a member of the League’s statewide policy committee on Housing Community and Economic Development, I have learned that homelessness exists in every region of California, that every city must do its part to help alleviate this growing crisis and that the most effective way to address homelessness is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

There are many reasons why a person, or a family, becomes homeless, including a serious statewide lack of housing. Seniors on fixed incomes are especially at risk when confronted with our housing crisis. Thirty percent of California’s 1.7 million renter households pay more than 50 percent of their income toward rent; that puts medically frail seniors with depreciating incomes at risk of losing everything.

As Mayor, I know there are individuals and families in Alameda sleeping in cars or tents, children from homeless families attending Alameda Unified School District schools and residents who are just one missed paycheck or medical emergency away from losing their housing. The Alameda Wellness Center would be available to them, also, with a daytime resource center exclusively for Alameda residents at risk of homelessness.

Every city, including Alameda, has to do its share to alleviate homelessness. We can’t just look the other way or expect other communities to shoulder the responsibility. (“Can’t they just go to Oakland?”) Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away; it allows it to grow. This is our challenge, too — and our chance to prove that we are a caring community.

Homelessness is a complicated problem that requires a range of effective solutions like those offered by the Alameda Wellness Center. Medically frail homeless seniors, including veterans, deserve the dignity of permanent housing, where they can live in security and get medical help when they need it. Helping vulnerable Alameda residents stay housed helps keep our homeless population from growing.

The Alameda Wellness Center should be a cause that unites us all, but misinformation about the project has led to misunderstanding and, at times, overheated dialogue. If Measure A is approved, the Wellness Center must still go through an extensive approval process that allows City Council to monitor and refine the scope of the daytime resource center and provides multiple opportunities for public input. Measure A merely allows that process to move forward.

The Wellness Center requires no City funding, only a willingness to allow a constructive solution to help improve human lives. You are not being asked to open your wallets to support Measure A, just your hearts.

I know Alameda as a compassionate, caring community. I am asking Alamedans to set aside their differences and seize this unique opportunity for our city to do its part to help alleviate homelessness. 

Please vote “yes” on A and “no” on B by April 9.

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is Alameda’s mayor. She can be reached at mezzyashcraft@alamedaca.gov.