Oakland, CA

Tuesday in the East Bay: Oakland students hold boycott, a motorcycle club makes donation to Richmond Girls Club and more

Refugio Garcia

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Oakland students boycott class amid safety concerns – OUSD tries to meet student demands

Oakland students on Tuesday morning boycotted classes in order to push for better safety measures within the district in response to the ongoing pandemic and a massive spike in new cases among students following the winter break, East Bay Times reports.

However, district officials said that they have met “most” of student demands by distributing 200,000 KN95 masks as well as installing awnings over outdoor eating areas, according to Oakland Unified spokesperson John Sasaki, adding that the supplies ordered by the district have “been on backorder for months.”

The OUSD boycott held by students comes after 1,200 students signed a petition authored by MetWest High School sophomores Ayleen Serrano, Ximena Santana and Benjamin Rendon, who became concerned after noticing a wave of new COVID cases on Oakland campuses after classes restarted after the winter recess.

COVID-19 testing facilities were also opened throughout the district last Friday and Monday. “We are conducting onsite tests as frequently as possible, with some schools getting onsite testing twice a week and some getting onsite testing once a week,” Sasaki said.

Yet another sticking point among student organizers and the district is the type of testing made available. Oakland Unified has provided rapid result at-home COVID tests but students are demanding that PCR testing be made available, as that type of testing is more accurate at detecting the omicron variant.

All-women motorcycle club stop to make generous donation the Richmond Bay Area Girls Club

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Members of the all-female motorcycle club, the Knyte Ryderz, rolled into the Bay Area Girls Club in Richmond on Saturday, the Richmond Standard reports.

Members of the Knyte Ryderz delivered a $1,050 gift to the club located at 260 Broadway, but this isn’t the first trip the motorcycle club has made to the Bay Area club that serves local girls.

The Knyte Ryderz have partnered with the Bay Area Girls Club for over a decade providing mentoring within the community such as hosting events where girls were able to meet with professionals who have been successful in their careers.

“We are a strong committed sisterhood dedicated to empowering women riders while extending our hands to lift up our teenage girls and escort them into adulthood,” said club founder and president, Champaigne Ellison.

The club has also hosted outings such as the Princess Brunch and Spa Day at Huckleberry Restaurant in Fairfield last October.

The executive director of the Bay Area Girls Club, Tiffany Harris, says the Knyte Riders as “simply awesome.”

“They teach empowerment and having good self-esteem to our young ladies here and mentor them on how to become prepared for when they enter into adulthood,” she said.

California rental relief program ends in March as aid requests outpace funding

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California’s tenant protections expire in March with the current demand for rental assistance now at $6.9 billion amid a steep increase in new COVID cases caused by the omicron variant, prolonging the pandemic while deepening economic turmoil, East Bay Times reports.

California’s pandemic rental relief has $5.2 billion in funding causing the state to request an additional $1.9 billion in funding but has only received only $62 million in additional federal aid.

The City of Oakland has created a waitlist in anticipation of demand for relief aid to surpass the state’s funding. About $2.5 billion will be needed to cover the upcoming requests.

“California will need significantly more funding from future federal reallocations in order to continue to meet the needs of low-income California renters impacted by COVID-19,” said Lourdes Castro Ramirez, who serves as California’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency secretary.

California will continue to provide relief for the lowest income families and tenants facing displacement, she added.

Tenants who qualify for the state’s rental relief program can have up to 100% of their back rent paid out to landlords and may also qualify for relief towards future rental fees.

State officials say that roughly 250,000 families have received funding, with $2.5 billion in aid already being paid out to landlords across California.

The City of Oakland is seeing roughly 400 applications per week. So far, the city has received $57 million in requests against the $32 million in available funds, according to Oakland’s director of Housing and Community Development, Shola Olatoye.

California’s current housing crisis mirrors the situation created following the subprime mortgage collapse in 2007 where many homeowners lost their houses and had their credit history destroyed.

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