“All fire victims will have to leave the “temporary shelter” with or without any money or housing on April 6th,” reported Audrey Candy Corn, POOR Magazine reporter, single mama of 3 and founder of TAZ clothing company who has been on the ground from Day 1 standing, advocating and caring for all the low-income families who lost everything they had in the West Oakland Fire of last week.
“The relocation funds given by the Red Cross and all the other entities over here claiming to help are as low as $150.00 for an individual and only goes up to $500.00 for a family of four, which covers nothing as we already know,” Audrey concluded.
The Chron reports that some residents have moved to hotels – but others never got the vouchers because they didn’t get to the center in time.
From the beginning, the displaced low-income, disabled, children and adults, all Black and Brown, who were already poor before the fire, have been neglected, forgotten, criminalized, poverty pimped and/or lied to.
Our lives as poor folks have already been normalized to include substandard living conditions, and the constant threat of displacement and no real help. In this story, mayors have visited, the Raiders have served food, GoFundMe’s have been started that didn’t actually go the individual families and was meant for the organization that was also housed in the building. And then the Salvation Army was called in to take away the bags and bags of unusable clothes that well-meaning folks had left for the fire victims, ostensibly adding profits to the Salvation Army’s already million-dollar used-clothing industry.
Just as in Haiti after the earthquake, another horrible example of poverty pimping of poor folks of color by poverty industries, there was no talk of reparations for low-income Black families in Oakland before the fire and so of course there is no talk of reparations now.
When myself and another POOR Magazine reporter Vivi T, both survivors of homelessness and gentrification fires ourselves, were at the site of the fire and first relocation center, a church at 27th and Broadway, talking to victims to get the truth behind this fire that displaced over 150 people and left four people dead, we witnessed our fellow poor folks suffering the classic example of poor-folks predation, as the police pulled up to the “relocation” center just in time to discover that one of the victims who was living in the building had a warrant and used their need for help as a chance to arrest them.
Audrey, who was filming the struggles and pimping every day on Facebook live, explained that from the beginning the process has been almost intentionally confusing, Many families who were living together only received one stipend because the Red Cross “volunteers” who had no experience with crisis or communities in struggle and what we would call poverty scholarship only distributed one application — which meant that some folks got the little Red Cross stipend, and a lot of folks had to fight to get it cause they were fucked from the start by the confusing application process of the Red Cross.
Here’s a transcript from a conversation between Mayor Libby Schaaf (LS) and one of the mamas at the shelter (P) trying to get some help:
P I think mothers and children should be given priority first. I’m not knocking anyone else. I just think that mothers with kids should be at the top of the list.
LS: I’m not actually the best person to tell, remember, I delegate stuff to other people, I’m not sitting there. What I can tell you is that I have staff at the city, not here, but City Hall, who are doing research on all of the housing resources and trying to figure out what housing resources are available.
P: All I’m saying is that that couple are going now. What did they say special that we didn’t say? We’ve got kids up here too.
LS: All I was told is that people who have medical conditions should get priority.
P: So that’s the cap? They’ve always got to put a cap on these things. Like I’ve told you my son had medical conditions. He’s hospitalized all the time- seizures, asthma. You’re asking me what could you do. I’m telling you but it’s like no, it’s not just you, a gang of people came here and asked me like you asked me … I thought since you’re the mayor, i thought you would have some kind of seniority, something you could do. So many women want to be there for her children. If I was in your place I know I’d be working my ass off to help people, that’s just me.
One of the poverty scholars I spoke to on Day One broke my heart, when he said “maybe we should just join the folks in the tents on the street.” A lot of times when an already hard life gets even harder we just give up — another little murder of the my ghetto scholar mama Dee used to call it.
Folks were displaced Thursday, April 6 with no real money or support or housing, just a lot of pamphlets and case-manglement. If folks want to help, victims are asking not for food or clothes or toiletries but for a direct donation of cash money or gift cards that can be distributed directly to the families. To arrange a meeting with the families directly, call Audrey Candy Corn at (510) 830-8822.