(Image Description: Stacy Milbern, Korean queer disabled activist sitting in her chair with black rimmed glasses, pink hair, and a pink striped shirt. She is smiling at the camera and looking joyful.)
Coming soon! Access-Centered Dance Party®™ — a benefit for Stacey Milburn
I recently bought a home in Oakland with the intention that it will be a safe haven for disabled people of color, and also a big community space for disability justice movement building. We are facing a housing crisis in the Bay Area where it’s normal for a studio to be $2000. Given that most disabled people are low or no income and many are facing the brunt of gentrification (it is impossible to live in Oakland on a $800 SSI check), a central part of the dream for this home was to have accessible community space where disability justice community could gather and a few people could live, including myself.
This entire process has been a nightmare. (Nothing compared to what unsheltered folks are facing, but still a nightmare.) Through bank credit, I’ve been paying rent and the mortgage for ten months, and trying to cover the cost of the renovations to get it habitable. It has been near impossible to find contractors and I’ve fallen into some scenarios where people took advantage of disability related vulnerability. There was undisclosed foundation work that needed to be done so I took out more money for that as well. My family has helped as much as in their means and a friend has been helping manage the work. Still, the anxiety of $$$ every month (especially as a disabled single income person) has been overwhelming, especially considering the house is still not wheelchair accessible. Working full time and picking up other gigs isn’t enough and I’ve been considering just filing bankruptcy and moving out of Oakland.
With that said, prayers recently brought me a retired contractor from the Korean church community who is helping me, largely volunteering his time. He is charging me 1/5 of other quotes and asking his friends to donate some labor. I will still need to borrow another $50k to get it wheelchair accessible but it actually seems possible now to cross the finish line. Still, $50k is. so. much. money. I can’t fathom owing that on top of everything else and am asking community for support dreaming this space with me.
If you are able to support this vision for disability justice community space, I hope you will join me. Any funds raised from this would go to the ADA bathroom ($12,380). If anything is raised on top of that it will go to the cost of the gofundme fees, the wheelchair lift ($12,600), and the cost of getting the house livable (electrical, kitchen, rooms, sheetrock etc). I moved to Oakland 9+ years ago because of disability programs and access to social justice community. My life work is supporting disabled people of color community and I’m involved in various roles across movements. All of my work right now is local to Oakland and having a place to do that work is a big motivator.
Disability justice dreams got me here and I’ll continue banking on them, regardless of what happens with the house. Thank you for contributing, boosting, and sending good thoughts my way.”
– Stacey Milbern