Oakland Protesters Demand More Homeless Be Placed in Hotels During Pandemic

May 22, 2020

With the door jammed with glue, and her head locked to the motel window, Stefani Echevarría-Fenn barricaded herself in a room at the Palms Motel in Oakland on Friday afternoon.

She and supporters have been paying to house 14 homeless people in hotels for the past few weeks. But their money is running out, and they want the city of Oakland to step in.

Erin Baldassari on Twitter

Stefani Echeverría-Fenn, founder of the #37MLK tent community, has chained herself to fixtures inside a room at the Palms Motel in Oakland. She’s refusing to leave until her unhoused neighbors have a place to stay. You can see her in the window on the far right:

“We have had a small army of volunteers trying to access the hotel rooms that the city claims are available for unhoused folks, but the bureaucratic red tape is immense,” Echevarría-Fenn said.

She said she fears that the women currently staying there — many of whom are older and have serious health conditions — could be in danger if they have to resume living on the street.

Justin Berton, a spokesman for Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office, said it’s Alameda County — not the city of Oakland — that is in charge of housing homeless residents in hotels. But he did note that Oakland recently opened additional trailers for 130 homeless residents.

County officials confirmed in an email to KQED that no rooms are currently available for medically compromised or older homeless people. “We know the need is far greater than our resources, and we’re working tirelessly to secure more rooms,” said Jerri Randrup with the county’s health care services agency.

— Molly Solomon (@solomonout)

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