Heal Not Harm - Homelessness Is Not a Crime

Safety begins with stable and healthy homes, neighborhoods and communities. That’s why we are standing up to win change and community-led solutions for unsheltered Oaklanders who are being displaced and criminalized.


Racial inequality, poverty and housing segregation are on the rise in Oakland, coinciding with a surge in encampments of unsheltered people across the city, the majority of whom are African American. In the past two years the unsheltered population in Alameda County has increased by 26 percent.

Alameda County officials are failing our communities by not providing affordable housing and adequate shelter for Oaklanders in need. Instead they conduct inhumane, unconstitutional sweeps, criminalizing and further displacing those who have nowhere to go.

Get Involved

We are organizing to put a stop to all unconstitutional sweeps of unsheltered encampments, and working to ensure that all Oaklanders to have access to housing. To get involved contact Senior Organizer Advocate Angelo Sandoval at angelo@ellabakercenter.org.

Ally Organizations:

The East Oakland Collective

The Village in Oakland

Homeless Advocacy Working Group (HAWG)

Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)

Background Information:

Violating the 8th Amendment

In September, 2018, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cities can't criminalize sleeping outside unless they are offering a viable shelter alternative to all of their unsheltered residents. The case, Martin v. Boise, rules that banning camping within city limits without providing shelter alternatives is cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the 8th Amendment.

UN Report Slams Treatment of Bay Area Unsheltered Citizens

In October, 2018,  UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing Leilani Farha presented a report on the poor treatment of the Bay Area’s unsheltered citizens to the UN General Assembly in New York. Farha had visited Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles as part of a global tour of unsheltered camps, and reported that she was devastated by what she saw in the Bay Area.

“I’ve seen squalor, I’ve seen homelessness in countries around the world,” she said. “I’ve seen really horrific things. And I saw all of that in Oakland, but I also witnessed a cruelty there that might be unparalleled.”

You can read Farha’s full comments to the UN General Assembly here.

Learn more about our other campaigns here.