Liberate 23rd Ave

About Liberate 23rd Ave

​A long-time, low-rent community building in Huichin (Ohlone land, East Oakland) could have become a giant playground for big tech. Instead, with community support, it's staying an affordable, queer and trans Black, indigenous, and people of color (QTBIPOC) -led social justice center.

In January 2017, our landlord told us she was selling the building. Unless we raised cash in 90 days to help buy it, the vibrant, tight-knit community members and community resources who share our historic building at 23rd and International could have been displaced.

Our mixed-use building is home to:

  • The Bikery: a community bike shop, part of Cycles of Change
  • SOL - Sustaining Ourselves Locally: a QTBIPOC collectively-run house and community garden
  • Shaolin Life: a Black-led martial arts and self-defense studio
  • Peacock Rebellion and Liberating Ourselves Locally (LOL): a QTBIPOC arts organization and maker space and is home to a diverse group of working-class BIPOC.

Together with the Oakland Community Land Trust, we had the rare opportunity to buy the building and realize a dream of long-term affordable housing and community space.

Together, the community raised cash, and we made an offer on the building in May 2017. On November 28, 2017, we bought the building!

Thanks to the Oakland Community Land Trust, POC Sustainable Housing Network, Sustainable Economies Law Center, Community Vision (fka Northern California Community Loan Fund), EastSide Arts Alliance, and everyone who donated, gave advice, cheered us on, conjured, and kept believing in this dream. You are why we're still here.

News from Liberate 23rd Ave

August 22, 2020
Making contact logo

Collective housing, cultural co-ops, land trusts, community banks are community-rooted enterprises that empower those that have been excluded from traditional economic institutions. Solidarity economy models exercised throughout the country are becoming viable solutions towards sustainable and economically just living.

August 22, 2020
Large group of QTPOC gathered in front of an Oakland building

Some of the residents and members of the groups housed at the 23rd Ave Community Building. When the landlord told them she would put the building on the real estate market in 90 days unless they made an offer first, they rolled up their sleeves and raised $90,000 from 600 people to #Liberate23rdAve—as a queer and trans people of color-centered hybrid residential commercial land trust. Photo by Luba Yusim

23rd Ave Community Building, Oakland, Calif.
For two decades, the 23rd Ave Community Building in East Oak-land’s Lower San Antonio district has been a haven for low-income and immigrant trans, NB, and queer POC. Shortly before Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, the building’s commercial and residential tenants got an alarming email from the landlord: Their building would be put up for sale if the current renters couldn’t put in a high enough bid.

August 22, 2020
A large group of QTPOC standing and kneeling smiling at the camera

A 23rd Ave. tenant stakeholder meeting

For two decades now, the building at the corner of 23rd and International avenues in east Oakland has been a community hub for people and organizations with few other places to go.

In a neighborhood that is low-income and majority people of color—flanked to the east by the largely Latino/Hispanic Fruitvale district and to the west by a predominantly Asian population—the building and its adjacent garden have offered sanctuary for long-time residents as well as four people of color-led social justice organizations serving their low-income neighbors.

July 3, 2020
East bay times logo

Fourteen Oakland nonprofits are getting more than $350,000 to secure long-term, affordable spaces as commercial rent in the city continues to rise.

July 3, 2020
Group of people gathered in front of building smiling

Tenants and members of community groups in front of the 23rd Avenue building in east Oakland acquired by its tenants in partnership with Oakland Community Land Trust. (Credit: Luba Yusim)

“It is such an incredible feeling to know that this isn’t just preserving a queer, trans, people of color-centered space for the next 5, 10, or 15 years — we’re thinking about this for the next 100 years,” says Peacock. “When [these marginalized groups] are rapidly being displaced [elsewhere], to feel that we’re staying is a powerful political act.” - Written by Aline Reynolds

July 3, 2020
Group of people standing in a circle outside a building in Oakland

"On the corner of 23rd Avenue and International Boulevard in East Oakland, there’s a colorful mural painted on the side of a building with the phrase “CULTURE IS A WEAPON” written in bold letters. In the center of the mural is an image of a raised fist in front of flames, surrounded by portraits of Black Panther party members, musicians, farmworkers and indigenous people. While the mural is surrounded by fences on all sides, its size and color make it a landmark in the San Antonio neighborhood bordering Fruitvale.

July 3, 2020
Black background with white redefine text

A shoutout in Redefine Magazine's article about Models of Space Preservation and Creation from Oakland and Seattle written by Vivian Hua. 

July 3, 2020
Two people of color speaking into microphones

In May 2018, Eri and Devi were on KPFA at the 18th Annual Malcom X Jazz Arts Festival in San Antonio Park. 

July 3, 2020
APEX express logo

Tonight, we explore the importance of space. Whether we’re talking about living space or our social surroundings, if you don’t own or manage the venue, you may be in a precarious situation.

July 3, 2020
Orange background bold black BEST of the East Bay 2018 on turquoise banner

23rd Avenue Collective