Mayor Provides Updates

Mayor Provides Updates

In 2020, several serious issues rose to prominence: the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice and homelessness. They are all urgent, and interrelated. In Alameda we are addressing them simultaneously.

Homelessness is a complex problem we must solve. Officer Pete Larsen’s primary goal as Alameda Police Department’s Homeless Liaison Officer is to provide resources to help individuals living in encampments or their vehicles find housing, medical treatment and mental health services. Sometimes he helps them reconnect with estranged family members.

He spends time getting to know the individuals he encounters, establishing their trust while learning about the circumstances that led them to live on the street. Larsen joined my Jan. 29 Zoom/Facebook Live Town Hall to discuss addressing homelessness in Alameda (www.youtube.com/cityofalameda).

Larsen works closely with nonprofit organizations the city has engaged to help reduce homeless-ness, including Village of Love which runs the Day Center at Alameda Point. A shuttle operated by Village of Love stops at designated locations around the city to pick up unhoused individuals and bring them to the Day Center. Last year, the Day Center provided services to 130 unsheltered residents.

At the Day Center individuals are assigned a case worker who helps them find housing, employment and job training, as well as medical and mental health care, and substance abuse treatment. Visitors can get something to eat, clean clothes, and the use of telephones, computers and a mailing address.

If you would like to donate clean and useable items to the Day Center — they need blankets, sweaters, durable pants and jackets, T-shirts, socks and personal hygiene products — or learn about volunteer opportunities, please e-mail info@thevillageoflove.com.

Village of Love staff also work with former encampment residents now living in four FEMA trailers at Alameda Point, and individuals and families living in their cars who spend the night at our safe parking venue that provides restroom facilities and overnight security.

More information about Alameda’s efforts to address and end homelessness, including our recently launched Homelessness Strategic Plan are available at www.alamedaca.gov/homelessplan.

If you are currently homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or want to get involved, call the Alameda Homeless Hotline, (510) 522-4663, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On weekends and evenings call 2-1-1 for access to countywide resources. We can all be part of the solution to the complex problem of homelessness.

In late January, I attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors virtual Winter Meetings where President Joe Biden and members of his new administration met with our organization. Mayors across the country expressed frustration with the inadequate and unpredictable supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Biden has committed to ramping up production of vaccines and increasing financial support to our communities to achieve his goal of 100 million vaccinations administered in his first 100 days in office.

On Feb. 1, California learned that it would receive $1.7 billion in federal funds to support COVID-19 vaccination, testing, contact tracing, containment and mitigation efforts. Alameda County will receive $54 million of these funds. We will learn more details in the coming days, but this is very good news.

Biden also emphasized that, until vaccinations are more widespread, masks and social distancing are the single best defense we have. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the President’s chief medical advisor, reminded us that 50% of COVID-19 transmissions are from people with no symptoms. He urged mayors to implore their constituents to avoid congregate settings, especially indoors and wear masks.

So, take it from Biden and Fauci: Wear your mask and maintain social distance! Take care and stay safe, Alameda! Brighter days are ahead.

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is the Mayor of Alameda.