RPA and SOS! Richmond Building Relationships

RPA and SOS! Richmond Building Relationships

Councilmember Eduardo Martinez meets with residents of the Castro RV encampment.

The RPA Membership met this past Spring and again in late September to explore securing greater public safety in our city. We hosted a panel of speakers who were asked to share 1) the main public safety issues facing their community; and 2) what their community might need from the RPA and how we can build a reciprocal relationship. Two speakers from Safe Organized Spaces Richmond represented our unhoused community members.

Investment in support for the unhoused community is one pillar of Reimagining Public Safety in Richmond. SOS! Richmond employs 18 unhoused individuals in a workforce development model. SOS!’s Streets Team addresses neighborhood quality-of-life, and their Safe Parking group helps people move to safer and more secure scattered site locations. 

There are a number of ways for RPA members to join in SOS!’s efforts and build our relationship with the unhoused community:

For one, we can offer financial support. RPA will record member contributions—that is, if you want to donate, go on the SOS! Richmond website and click on Donate. When you pledge support, note “SOS! Richmond/RPA” in the memo of your check. At the end of the year, we can tabulate and publicize our fiscal support for the unhoused in our community. We already have $400 in our fund (and so far, $600 more has been committed by RPA through 2021). Every little bit helps, so small donations are welcome.  Below are some ways your financial support will materially benefit SOS! efforts.

Castro RV encampment. The largest and least safe encampment in Richmond is located at Castro & Hensley in North Richmond. SOS will help residents change its conditions. Material and volunteer support will uplift the Castro encampment.

RV Fleet. SOS will help people move from their cars or tents into RVs. Financial, material, and volunteer support will help to sponsor an individual or family who needs an RV as a temporary home. For example, an RPA member can sponsor a prospective household to gain access to a RV by leading a GoFundMe effort to encourage friends and connections to donate for the purchase of the RV.

Secure Scattered Sites. Richmond has enacted an urgency ordinance for off-street safe parking that will allow 1-4 RV-dwelling households to live in parking lots at houses of worship. The Streets Team will provide site infrastructure (toilet, potable water, solar power, wastewater disposal, insurance, peer support, and regular oversight), and Housing Navigation will assist people along the pathway to stable housing. Neighbors can adopt a guest household during their transitional period.

Making Connections. SOS seeks alliances with individuals and organizations, like the RPA, to engage in collection drives for: blankets, winter clothing and outdoor gear for a winter campaign; new socks and underwear for expanding its Shower Power program; or essentials like gas cards to pay for generator fuel, solar batteries and inverters; and purchase of portable toilets and potable water tanks to deploy across Richmond.

There is something here for everyone. Let’s walk the talk and pledge our personal and organizational support to help coordinate care for our unhoused neighbors.

By Daniel Barth, Safe Organized Spaces! Richmond and Diana Wear, RPA