7 Months Into the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City of Oakland Is Still Providing Critical Services

Date Posted: October 26th, 2020 @ 10:19 AM
Last Updated: October 26th, 2020 @ 11:40 AM
This Head Start student shows how learning can be fun and safe!

A pre-K student demonstrates that learning can be fun and safe at one of the City of Oakland Head Start's reopened centers this October.

Human Services Department Updates, October 2020

Free Food for Snackin’ Seniors

Tired of cooking? Low on food? The North Oakland Senior Center is still providing take away lunches, Monday through Friday! Reservations are required for a Spectrum Lunch at least 72 business hours in advance, before noon. If you would like to make a reservation, please call us at the Center between 10am-2pm at 510-597-5085 or email the Center Director Kayla Brown at kbrown3@oaklandca.gov. There is a suggested donation of $3.75 per meal for those over the age of 60, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. All meals are chilled and sealed and will need to be heated. Wednesdays are cold meals. Lunches are picked up at the NOSC between 12:00pm-12:30pm. How does it work? Pull up in your car and we will place it in your passenger seat or walk up and we will place it on a table for you. We keep our 6 feet of distance, for your safety, and ours!

Want to Help? Sign Up to Deliver Groceries to Seniors!

Supporting seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic is a team effort — and it’s easy to get involved. You can volunteer to deliver groceries to seniors out of the North Oakland Senior Center! Contact Liz Hillen at lhillen@oaklandca.gov or 510-238-3620 to learn more about the opportunity. She’ll make sure you have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and use of a vehicle. This grocery delivery is a joint project between LIFE ElderCare and the City of Oakland’s Senior Companion Program. Volunteers are needed every Tuesday and Thursday, between noon and 3 pm. Learn more about volunteering for grocery delivery here. And don’t forget, the City of Oakland has a robust food distribution program open to everyone in the city.

How Oakland Seniors Are Braving the Pandemic: A Message from Jennifer King

Our Center’s front doors are closed, but the lights are on, the phones are ringing, and the staff is keeping it moving. Interestingly enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to reconsider new ideas as we continue to provide innovative programming to our nearly 1,000 members.

Prior to the closure, the Downtown Oakland Senior Center (DOSC) was constantly humming with 35 classes, bi-weekly dances, and constant travel opportunities. Now, with our members safely sheltered at home, we have been compelled to present these vibrant older adults with virtual classes and programming offerings. Did you know that seniors are lifelong learners? Well, they are and that means we have to ensure that our new classes are enjoyable and interesting. Always ready to rise to a challenge, DOSC staff launched their own YouTube channel that features exercise classes, presentations, and discussions. For example, “Cooking with Shirley” offers members an opportunity to broaden their cooking and culinary experiences. More than 2,400 viewers have tuned in.

From the comfort of their homes, DOSC members are now able to participate in four creative writing classes, a weekly current events discussion, a monthly book club meetings, a weekly electronic newsletter, and a short story reading group. Several of the Center’s physical fitness instructors are hosting their classes online, making certain that the seniors stay active while staying safe.

Much of the staff’s time, however, is spent making those all-too-important Care & Concern phone calls to our members. And what a surprise that has been! DOSC staff has discovered that while we are listening to their concerns (and sometimes fears), we are talking with men and women who have lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the wars with Korea and Vietnam, the polio outbreak, the Spanish flu pandemic, and the Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Gay Rights Movements. So you see, our members know a thing or two about surviving, and they are a constant reminder to us about the necessity of holding on to hope. — Jennifer King, DOSC Director

Call the Downtown Oakland Senior Center (Mon-Fri) at (510) 238-3284 for information and referrals concerning:

  • Food
  • Legal Assistance
  • Flu Shots
  • You just need someone to talk to.

Congratulations to 3 Head Start Parents Hired After Completing an Apprenticeship Program!

Photo of a Head Start student with toys

In June 2020, nineteen Head Start parents completed the City of Oakland’s first Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship program. Today, three graduates of the program have been hired by the City of Oakland’s Head Start program to work as Early Childhood Assistant Instructors! This is a big success not only for these three families, but also for Head Start and the apprenticeship program, which was a partnership between Merritt College, Head Start, and the City of Oakland Workforce Development Board. Opportunities will continue to arise for the other graduates of the apprenticeship program, as they are now prepared to work in early childhood education. When we lift each other up, we win! Learn more about enrolling in the City of Oakland Head Start for the 2020-2021 school year and about COVID-19 resources for Head Start families.

Head Start COVID-19 Resources and Support

Head Start Families Receive $300 in Cash Assistance

The City of Oakland’s Head Start Program is working with the Oakland Public Education Fund, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and Oakland Covid Fund to provide $300 in cash assistance to over 550 families! Through the generous donation and support from the community and local businesses, the families who have received Head Start financial support have been able to use it to cover monthly expenses such as rent, utility bills, child care, and groceries. A parent with four children, who continues to work part-time during COVID-19, was very appreciative for the cash assistance, stating the money was so helpful since she continues paying for childcare for all four children while she works. Another family of four, whose income has decreased by more than 50% due to reduced hours, used the cash assistance to pay for rent. Some families will continue to receive their cash assistance through the fall. Oakland’s Head Start Program is so pleased to be able to provide families with financial assistance during these very challenging circumstances.

Don’t Forget: Unemployment Income Is Taxable

If you have been receiving unemployment insurance, here’s an important reminder: Your unemployment income is still subject to taxes. You don’t want to find yourself owing taxes that you aren’t prepared to pay come the 2020 tax deadline in April 2021, so make sure you set aside money or elect to have your unemployment income taxed through the EDD portal. In August 2020, labor data showed that about 10% of people living in Oakland, Hayward, and Berkeley were unemployed. That’s a lot of people who should know about unemployment income taxes, so spread the word! Read more in this new IRS publication on the taxability of unemployment payments: Publication 5444. More comprehensive information on tax issues related to unemployment and job loss can be found in IRS Publication 4128 (Spanish version available too) and on the IRS webpage.

Save Money on Your Energy Bill

Photo of a chart of incomes to qualify for LIHEAP assistance

If you are currently receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits and need help with paying your PG&E or Alameda Municipal Power bills, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may be able to help! The chart at right shows qualifying monthly incomes for the energy bill assistance program. Please call us at 510-881-0300 for more information.

Election Alert: How to Vote Safely by November 3

All registered California voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot with a prepaid, first class postage return envelope for the November 3, 2020 General Election. You have multiple safe, secure, and reliable options for returning your ballot:

Voting Method How to Vote

Vote by Mail

No stamp is required to return your ballot through the US Postal Service. Make sure your ballot is postmarked by November 3, 2020.

Vote by Drop Box

Alameda County has secure drop boxes to return your ballot. Make sure your ballot is deposited by 8:00 p.m. on November 3, 2020

Vote In Person

You can return your ballot to a polling place, vote center, or to the Alameda County office at 1225 Fallon Street in Oakland by 8:00 p.m. on November 3, 2020.

You can also vote early at many polling places. Voting locations will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance.

We’re taking proactive steps to safeguard the vote-by-mail process.

  • County elections offices will carefully process all valid vote-by-mail ballots they receive. Your signature on the return envelope will be compared to the one provided when registering to protect your vote. For many voters, this will be the signature on your CA driver’s license or state ID.
  • The state has allowed more time for vote-by-mail ballots cast by Election Day to arrive at county elections offices. County elections offices will process all ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and arrive within 17 days of Election Day.
  • Our US Postal Service partners are prioritizing delivery of vote-by-mail ballots. All ballots feature the Official Election Mail Logo to help postal workers and carriers identify ballots and ensure all ballots are processed in a timely manner.
You can also take action to ensure a smooth voting experience:

Double check the address on your registration.
To make sure you get your ballot, you can confirm your address at: VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov

Sign up for ballot tracking alerts. You can sign up to receive updates on your vote-by-mail ballot via text (SMS), email, or voice call through the state’s official “Where’s My Ballot?” tracking tool at: WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov

Make your plan to vote. Decide how you will return your ballot. No matter which method you choose, you can find tools to cast your ballot at: vote.ca.gov

If you need more assistance, contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters https://www.acvote.org/ or 510-272-6973.

Contact the Human Services Department

Human Services Main Office


150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor

Oakland, CA 94612

Alameda County Oakland Community Action Partnership


Community Housing & Homelessness


Head Start


Oakland Fund for Children & Youth


Oakland Youth Advisory Commission


Senior Services


Sugar Sweetened Beverage


Summer Food Service Program