Written by Adrian Rehn
President, Oak Park Neighborhood Association (OPNA)

At the Oak Park Neighborhood Association (OPNA), we are excited at the opportunity to work more closely with our friends at UC Davis Health to improve health outcomes and quality of life in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. The Oak Park Neighborhood Association is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that serves as a resource to inform and advocate for quality of life in the Oak Park neighborhood, benefitting all who live, work, or play here.

As the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world, it disproportionately impacted low-income families and people of color. We saw this in our neighborhood – beyond the tragic deaths that resulted from the disease, there were a great deal of unexpected costs that residents were forced to bear. Community members fell behind on rent, bills, car payments, and more, all while cost of living continued to surge in the Sacramento area. The population of our unhoused neighbors grew as people were priced out of their homes.

OPNA recognized that there was a need to act. Inspired by local mutual aid efforts and the basic income pilot in the City of Stockton led by former Mayor Michael Tubbs, we built a framework to raise funds and then make direct payments to households in need. “Oak Park Cares,” as we called it, needed to be fast and low barrier – we settled on the prerequisites for a household to receive funds, and set an award “ceiling” of $200. The application is simple and accessible, and can be completed online or via a printed form.

To date, we’ve been able to raise and pay out nearly $15,000 to Oak Park resident in need. Thank you to all of the corporate, local community organizations and individual donors who provided the funds for this pilot to take place. Beneficiaries of this program include our unhoused neighbors – on more than one occasion, OPNA volunteers have delivered an Oak Park Cares check to the X Street Shelter.

Part of the application process is the sharing of stories – “why” these funds are needed by the household. We’ve been able to learn a lot about our community and its needs as a result of these stories from struggling Oak Park residents.

Sacramento County also provides critical services to those who are unhoused or struggling to stay in their homes, in partnership with Sacramento Steps Forward, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), and other service providers and community hubs. Increasingly, cities and other local jurisdictions are filling in gaps in services with targeted programs geared toward their unique populations. Beyond Oak Park Cares, some of the services we’ve personally referred residents to include:

We appreciate the opportunity to share our story with our neighbors at UC Davis Health.

If you are either interested in learning more about Oak Park Cares or applying yourself, reach out to us. The Oak Park Cares program directly supports Oak Park residents who need an emergency infusion of cash to make their rent, buy gas for their car or food for their family, or to pay an unexpected bill.

The Oak Park Neighborhood Association (OPNA) hosts community meetings on topics of neighborhood concern on the first Thursday of every month.

For updates, you can sign up for our email newsletter at oakparkna.com. OPNA also manages a very active Facebook Group. If you would like to get in touch with us, we can be reached at OPNA@oakparkna.com.