When the pandemic hit, Marquisse Moore lost his job, and it didn't take long before he lost his home, too.
He had been working as a forklift driver at a tortilla factory before being laid off in early April. New jobs were hard to find.
When he realized he wouldn’t be able to continue paying rent on his Mountain View apartment, he told his landlord he would be moving out. For the next six months, he and his 6-year-old daughter bounced between family and friends' couches. Sometimes he slept in his car.
“I made sure my daughter always had a roof over her head, even if I didn't,” he said. “It was a very big struggle.”
On a leap of faith, he applied to a two-bedroom apartment in Oakland’s Fruitvale District in December. And to his surprise, the landlord was interested in renting to him even though he wasn't working yet.
Moore had just been offered a job at Alameda Health Systems, working in its COVID-19 ward. But there was still another problem: He couldn't afford the security deposit and first month’s rent.
That’s when the landlord connected him to a program called Keep Oakland Housed. Since 2018, it has provided more than $11.5 million in direct financial assistance and legal counsel to nearly 5,000 households. Most of the money — 85% — comes from philanthropic donations.
“It actually had me in tears,” Moore said, after finding out the program would foot the bill to help him move in. “It meant everything to me.”
The idea behind the program is simple, said Zoë Polk, executive director of the East Bay Community Law Center: “Stop homelessness before it happens."
The program began in 2018 as a three-year pilot program and is a partnership between the city of Oakland and local nonprofits.