[Photos by Jeremy Word]
As the only low-barrier shelter for families in San Francisco is set to close on Dec. 15, dozens of city residents, housing advocates and health care workers gathered on Dec. 6 for an emergency rally on the steps of City Hall, protesting the closure of Oasis Family Shelter.
In addition to calling for the shelter to remain open, rally-goers also called on the city to take the immediate and urgent steps to acquire the building. Rally goers are likewise calling on the owners of the building to sell it to the city or a non profit organization, that would hopefully keep it a low-barrier shelter. It currently houses 59 families.
“I want to feel hopeful that they will change their mind about the closure, because this is all we have. We don’t have any other alternative after this,” said Cheyanne Tate, who has been a resident of Oasis since February. “This is a last resort for us. We won’t have anywhere else to go after this.”
Dominika Seidman, who is an OBGYN at San Francisco General Hospital and Team Lily, warned of the dangers of Oasis closing.
“We take care of many unhoused pregnant people, who are waiting for shelter. And they are waiting because the Oasis is always full,” said Seidman. “If we close the Oasis, it will result in more unhoused pregnant people staying on the street. We know that that leads to bad birth outcomes. We know that leads to maternal mortality and death. And the city has a responsibility to take care of its residents, and most importantly, its families.”
The rally was MC’d by Tracey Mixon, who is the Peer Organizer at the Coalition on Homelessness. She said that some families have already left the shelter.
“There has been no offer of permanent housing, the only offers that they have are shelters. And some folks aren’t even getting into shelters,” Mixon said. “I want to continue this fight to ensure that the city does what they have to do to buy this building to keep families safe. I also want to ensure that families get permanent housing. And I’m not going to stop this fight because I’m formerly homeless when my daughter was eight…she’s almost 13 …so I live this and I’ve experienced this and I’m going to keep on fighting for these families.”
The Coalition on Homelessness is encouraging community members to write personal letters to the building’s owners. According to the Coalition, the building is owned by 25 individuals. To learn more about how to write the owners, visit: bit.ly/SavetheOasis
Listen to audio here: