OCO leaders have won our first victory in our “Green Jobs for Life” campaign. On Tuesday, June 2nd, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved the use of federal Community Development Block Grant money to fund a home weatherization program developed by the Mayor’s office and City staff, with OCO input.

The weatherization program will consist of a revolving loan fund from which low and moderate income homeowners (at or below 80% of Area Median Income) can borrow money to weatherize their homes at low or no cost, based on income, with repayment deferred until the home is refinanced or sold. The City will develop a list of recommended contractors, who will agree to preferential hiring for Oakland residents, especially those who have completed training programs like the Green Job Corps or a proposed new program at Laney College in partnership with PG&E. This should create 300 to 400 entry level prevailing wage jobs targeted at helping Oaklanders with barriers to employment enter the workforce. Additionally, the homeowners who weatherize will save money on lower PG&E bills and we will all benefit from a greener Oakland. Everybody wins!

Kehilla Community Synagogue is working on the “Green Jobs for Life” campaign in partnership with the West Oakland Cluster, whose leaders are working closely with the Department of Human Resources and the Street Outreach Teams to identify ways to improve and expand the violence intervention program. The 300 to 400 weatherization jobs may not sound like much, but they are an important beginning. These green jobs and the new or expanded training programs that will develop around the weatherization plan will be a great resource for the Street Outreach Teams in their efforts to reach our most at-risk young people.

By working together, we are approaching the issue of violence reduction from two directions, to appropriate an economic phrase: supply and demand. We demand a reduction in violence on our streets and a better future for our young people. In order to achieve this goal, Oakland must supply good jobs to offer as an alternative to hopelessness and crime. We will continue to work with the City to insure adoption of policies and programs that fulfill our vision of a greener Oakland with a brighter future for all.