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Community groups united for new support center in East Oakland

Community groups are coming together to invest East Oakland, one of the hardest hit areas of the city when it comes to disparities.

“This is ground zero of our genius to expose ourselves to the world. Our goal here is that we will build back and return a thriving community,” said CJ Johnson, CEO of the Black Cultural Zone.

There’s a new welcome center on International And 83rd and it will serve as the foundation of the Black Cultural Zone’s mission. Once remodeled, the center will be a housing and job development, co-working space and content studio.

The goal is to eventually reach thousands of people throughout the 80th to 90th Avenue commercial corridor to combat decades of disinvestments.

“Not only will our organization own these properties but we are going to have our legacy residents and businesses, those who use to live here who have been gentrified or displaced out, have a say in what we do with the properties we acquire,” Johnson said.

“This location will be pivotal for employment efforts, landlord engagement and just a drop in center so people know if they are at risk of homelessness they can come here,” said Logan McDonnell with the Keep Oakland Housed Initiative.

The center is part of a larger mission to have 10 cultural hubs serving a 50 by 50 block radius. The idea is to rebuild the area to provide resources and opportunities to help people tens of thousands throughout the community.

“We know that as we rise East Oakland will rise,” said Oakland councilmember Treva Reid. “We know that we care the crippling weight of nearly every disparity in the city and the work that they are leading and that we are partnering with them on will disrupt the decades of disinvestment.”

“Rise East” is a 10-year effort to invest in East Oakland. The collective has raised $29 million of the $50 million needed to receive match funding for an extra $50 million to transform other areas of East Oakland.

“Raising the remainder of that match so that we can unlock real, real resources to build on the work that has started here years ago and will continue years in the future,” said Aly Bonde with Oakland Thrives.,

The welcome center soft launched on Thursday but is still waiting on permits and is expected to fully open next year.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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