Seeking emergency housing? Please call (510) 532-3211

At EOCP, Staff From East Oakland Grow As Leaders

May 7, 2022At EOCP, Staff From East Oakland Grow As Leaders

While our work has expanded to serve across Alameda County, we’ve been steadfastly committed to our home neighborhood, East Oakland. This commitment is brought to life every day by our dedicated team — many of whom are lifelong East Oaklanders. Their work and their presence demonstrates: EOCP is committed to who we say we are committed to, not only in the people we serve, but also in the people whose careers we invest in and grow.

For these staff, their proud East Oaklander identity and deep familiarity with our city helps build trust with those who seek support at EOCP. Being from the neighborhood, their reasons for coming to work every day at EOCP are more than just a check, or a short commute. Having seen (and, been directly impacted by) the outcomes of an evolving East Oakland, they show up at work with a strong vision for change, and a belief in all of the people who comprise our city. 

We are proud to introduce these passionate, resilient colleagues, who each bring a personal commitment to community transformation. EOCP’s team is giving back to East Oakland, and modeling how to heal, grow, and thrive here.

Meet Tambra Duren, Rapid Rehousing Manager

I’ve always been a community activist, and enthusiastic about giving back through this kind of work. When I was 13, I wrote down my life goals: To work in my community, head a youth center, and help the people I knew and who mattered most to me — those I see every day on the bus, on BART, in my neighborhood. I have met all of these goals, and still have the same passions today. It’s gratifying and fulfilling to invest in the same people I’ve always cared about.

I was born and raised in the center of East Oakland. I’ve seen it change over my lifetime, and I remember when there were more family-owned businesses, and a richness of diversity and culture. Yes, there is new economic growth and vibrancy, but it’s challenging to see how it has impacted our clients’ experiences with homelessness. The demographics of the people who experience homelessness here has changed. When I was a young girl, homelessness wasn’t as visible or prevalent. I wasn’t used to seeing tents all across the city. Redevelopment has brought some new affordable housing, but very few options for low income tenants, especially for Veterans, seniors, or families. I know and believe that no one should live without housing. Yet in my everyday work with EOCP clients, I’m seeing how changes in Oakland are making it more difficult for people to live a sustainable life here.

Knowing Oakland like the back of my hand gives me a step up in my job. I know which community resources are available and which are the best fit for a client’s personalized needs.  When I’m working with someone who is struggling with their mental health and might be triggered by a certain neighborhood, I understand exactly where in Oakland they are talking about, and I can take a more informed approach to support them.

Meet Justin Townsend, Lead Housing Advocate, Crossroads

East Oakland is a big part of my life — it has molded me into the person I am, and helped me understand how we survive and struggle. I was born and raised here, I love it here, and it will always be my home. It’s changing, and I think that it’s a place that is misunderstood and mistreated due to the hierarchies in our society.

As someone from East Oakland, I always try to help people who come through our doors to understand that EOCP is here to serve them. I tell those who I serve at Crossroads: There are people in our community who have made it through to the other side. The hope is alive, there’s a way we can do it, and there is proof. 

I can say that there’s proof, because my journey to this job has been proof. I personally have been through the same things that the people we serve and support have experienced. I have experienced homelessness, and I’ve used drugs. I’ve been through the same thing. 

Speaking from experience, I understand how hard it can be to be OK with receiving support. I remember feeling, “You’re not going to catch me in no shelter.” I thought it was degrading. But because I’ve been there, I know first-hand how to acknowledge and give our shelter residents the props they need to take the next step. When people talk with me, they see how I can be caring and understanding while understanding that I’m another person from East Oakland, like them.  As a white person, this connection to our shared roots helps a lot to build trust across race too.

Celebrate our Homegrown Leaders!

At EOCP, we believe in the fulfilling, meaningful cycle of supporting East Oakland’s own people to build and thrive in their careers. We’re so proud of our East Oaklander colleagues whose journeys at EOCP have shown tremendous professional growth, with opportunities to evolve, step up into new roles internally, and keep learning. This is our continued commitment to helping East Oakland neighbors remain rooted in our community. 

Will you support our homegrown leaders?

When you support EOCP, you’re lifting a whole community of people — those experiencing homelessness, as well as the devoted staff who work persistently and compassionately to care for t

Sign up for our newsletter

7515 International Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 532-3211
© 2023 East Oakland Community Project