Mayor’s Community Toy Drive brings cheer to many

At this time of year, many parents grab up lists to Santa and race to the mall in hopes of nabbing the year’s hottest toys to hide under the tree. But for Nombuyiselo Gqajena, an Oakland mother living at the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center—a transitional housing facility—Christmas presents great emotional and financial stress.

Hundreds of Thanksgiving meals served at CityMinistries

It’s the little things Joseph Riley remembers, like his mother’s homemade rocky road candy, when another holiday season takes the stage. The candy remains a distant taste of childhood, Riley’s more recent holiday memories are composed of long lines out a shelter door, paper plates filled with turkey and trimmings, and finally Riley returning home, wherever home is that year, alone.

Howie Harp closing, leaving homeless without service

On October 15, the Howie Harp Multi-Service Center at San Pablo and 18th Street will close. For the last 21 years, Howie Harp has served homeless people diagnosed as mentally ill. The clients’ conditions run the gamut from schizophrenia and narcotics abuse to manic depression and diabetes, and Harp has provided such services as housing referrals, anger management, counseling, hygiene kits and meals. Watch the photo slideshow and hear from the people who have sought aid from the center for so many years.

New owners celebrate Habitat “sweat equity” homes

The volunteer group Habitat for Humanity, which helps low-income working families buy homes by investing their own labor in the construction, invited neighbors and first-time homeowners on Saturday to the completion of Habitat’s Edes Avenue development in East Oakland.

Homeless and misunderstood

When is a homeless person a vagrant nuisance? And when is a homeless person just a fellow human being victimized by circumstance and bad luck? Sometimes with the indigent, there’s more than meets the eye.

Thousands to lose county assistance funds on April 1

On April 1, Alameda County will cut off funding to thousands of recipients of General Assistance, a safety net program provided to indigent adults without dependent children who have little or no savings and no source of income. Two Oakland men who depend on General Assistance share their stories with Oakland North, as well as their concerns about life after April 1.

As more Oakland youth join the sex trade, law enforcement explores alternatives to incarceration

For decades, the law enforcement and justice systems have treated juvenile sex workers as criminals, not victims, arresting and locking them up. Now the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and an Oakland nonprofit that works with sexually exploited youth are exploring alternatives to incarceration. But what’s the best way to do it?