Christmas was looking pretty bleak for E’ville Eye historical contributor Joey Enos and his family this season. Joey, his wife Anna and son Sammy were facing possible displacement amid our ongoing Housing Crisis if they were unable to secure a new home.
Complicating matters is Joey’s four-year-old son was born with Cerebral Palsy and any housing situation would need to meet certain accessibility requirements.
Joey described his current residence where they’ve lived for the past seven years near the Uptown area of Oakland as basically a “tiny home” at only 350 square feet. They moved in prior to the success of Oakland’s First Fridays Art Murmur that had a dramatic impact on rents in the area.
Like many landlord/tenant relationships, this wasn’t a classic ‘eviction’. Joey’s family wasn’t served a written notice, it came in the form of ongoing reminders of ‘how cheap their rent was’ and subtle harassment like questioning the breed of Lucca, their son’s in-training therapy dog.
He knew it was time to move his family out on their own terms before being faced with a more desperate scenario. “We were scared we didn’t have the resources to fight for our housing.”
The Enos’ began looking for a place that could accommodate their family and soon realized the depth of our region’s housing crisis. “We first looked at Alameda” noted Anna, “and it was pretty depressing to experience first hand how tight the housing market is.”
Their ‘longshot’ was an application they previously submitted for affordable rental housing through The City of Emeryville’s Bellow Market Rate (BMR) rental program. There were at least 30 people in front of them when they applied in 2015 tempering their optimism. Joey followed up on the standing of his application and confirmed they still met the income requirements. Anna applied for and was accepted to receive In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) through a County program that provides support for families needing care for a loved one.
Joey lived in Emeryville for several years where he met and married Anna and has always felt a strong connection to our city. Joey wrote the seminal Emeryville Mudflat driftwood art series for The E’ville Eye that has become one of the most comprehensive historical records of this cultural phenomenon.
He and East Bay Yesterday podcaster Liam O’Donoghue have gone on a lecture circuit with their historical account of the mudflats and Joey is assembling an oral history by tracking down and interviewing the original artists that are still alive.
The Enos family has a long legacy in Emeryville and operated the Michel & Pelton Company off of Horton from 1929-1982. His great-grandmother was in fact the secretary for then state attorney General Earl Warren when he famously declared Emeryville “The Rottenest City on the Pacific Coast.” Joey’s father served on The Emeryville Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s and 80s.
When Joey and Anna finally received word that 3900 Adeline had a vacant unit in their price range, they were jubilant. “Thank you all for helping us find housing!” Joey emphatically announced on his Facebook profile. “We are very very very lucky to find an affordable housing situation in Emeryville for our family. My family has been in the East Bay since the 1880s and for the foreseeable future, we are still here. Sammy loves his new home!”
Joey has already began researching his new Adeline neighborhood and hopes to bring some interesting historical pieces to light for us. “Ideas are already bubbling since we moved in last week!” he noted. “The original plot line splits this property and Vicente Peralta once owned this land.”
Joey is currently employed as a collections manager for The National Pastime Museum and has archival resources and contacts at his disposal for research. It seems as if Emeryville is in fact the one that has received a gift this holiday.