Two Initiatives Threaten Unhoused Neighbors, Medically Frail Seniors

Grassroots opposition forming to stop them

Opponents of housing, medical care and hospice for vulnerable medically frail seniors have launched a campaign to qualify two dangerous initiatives for the November ballot in the City of Alameda. The first initiative would fine people for being homeless in Alameda, and the second initiative would deny critically needed housing and medical support for homeless seniors at the Alameda Wellness Center (AWC). A grassroots coalition of concerned residents is forming to stop these initiatives and to deter other attempts by a small group of opponents to deny safe housing and medical services for frail homeless.

Together these initiatives are an outright attack on unhoused neighbors in Alameda. At a time when our community is trying to save lives and overcome a pandemic, a small but well-financed group is trying to deny housing to seniors who are infirm and at risk. It’s inhumane and wrong.

The initiatives are an attempt to relitigate what Alameda voters already decided in an April 2019 special election. In that election, voters affirmed their support of AWC, a source of permanent housing and medical care for homeless seniors. That special election, forced on the city by the same group, cost Alameda residents $750,000. Now they have submitted notice to the City Clerk that they plan to gather signatures for two new initiatives in an attempt to stop the project that voters have already approved once. 

Alameda voters spoke decisively last year that we want compassion and dignity for our most vulnerable neighbors. Now, as our current public health crisis shows, it is even more important to provide shelter for seniors with underlying medical conditions. Never in our lifetimes has it been more clear that we need to strengthen our social safety net, yet people are gathering signatures  and engaging in a variety of delay tactics to keep medically vulnerable seniors out on the streets.

Lara Thomas, a representative of Renewed Hope, said: “In the face of calls to the entire community to shelter in place and to support our frontline health workers and first responders, any effort to deny shelter to some of us is an affront to all of us. We hope all Alamedans will say ‘no’ to any signature gathering aimed at blocking AWC. We must stand fast in our support of Alameda Point Collaborative’s (APC) work to care for people who can’t always depend on having a home.”

The Alameda Justice Alliance, a coalition of social advocacy groups in Alameda that was actively involved in the April 2019 campaign to reaffirm the city’s support for the project, released a statement saying: “In a time of crisis, when everyone in our community should pull together to protect our collective health and safety, it’s essential this life-saving facility for fragile, elderly people facing homelessness move forward. Alamedans must reject any attempt to slow or block this needed project proposed by APC.”

In addition to the initiatives, the same group of opponents has filed an appeal to APC’s design review application, which will be heard by the City of Alameda Planning Board on May 11.

These efforts to deny shelter to unhoused Alamedans are being directed by John Healy a “legal service provider.” Despite having already spent significant funds, he has not filed any reports with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission that would disclose who is actually funding this latest campaign to block the project and deny services to our most fragile community members.

APC is urging all Alameda residents to alert them if signature gatherers are seen in the community, and most importantly, to decline to sign the cruel and hateful initiatives.
For additional updates on the Wellness Center Project, which is progressing through the normal city review process, please visit www.caringalameda.org.