Bridging the gap

October 30, 2018 marked a watershed moment in the City of Oakland’s efforts to improve the lives of our unsheltered residents. In a ceremonial exchange , Mayor Libby Schaaf received keys on behalf of the City to a newly refurbished building that will play a vital role in helping to address the homeless crisis, and in the evening, the Oakland City Council voted to approve the Administration’s $8.6 million emergency funding package.

Details about the rapid re-housing facility and funding package are below:

City Officials Unveil “The Holland” Rapid Re-Housing Facility

The City of Oakland is now the official owner of 641 Grand Avenue, a three-story Arts and Crafts style residential hotel historically called Hotel Holland, designed by famed local architect Julia Morgan and built in 1906. Last night the Oakland City Council approved $800,000 to fund Bay Area Community Services (BACS) to manage on-site services for new residents.

“This facility is one more way that we are inviting people out of the cold, off the streets, and into safety and services,” said Mayor Schaaf. “It is thrilling to be opening a second location of our very successful Henry Robinson Rapid Rehousing Program. Up to 180 formerly unsheltered residents a year will get shelter, services, care, and support on their path to self-sufficiency in this beautiful, historic Julia Morgan building.”

Mayor Schaaf also praised the Council for taking bold moves to respond to the homeless crisis, and acknowledged Councilmember Abel Guillen, District 2, as a champion for acting with urgency to provide basic shelter to our unsheltered residents.

Innovative and Successful: Henry Robinson Rapid Rehousing Model

Funded by Measure KK, “The Holland” building will serve as a multi-service facility modeled after Oakland’s successful Henry Robinson Center (also managed by BACS) which serves 300 recently homeless people per year and has an 88 percent success rate of placing clients into permanent housing when they exit.

Homeless, single adults, aged 18 and older, are eligible for the program. With 70 units, the facility can assist about 90 individuals at a time, or between 150 and 180 residents per year. The new facility will open and welcome residents in December. With the Winter Shelter transitioning to become a year-round shelter and the Community Cabin site at 6th and Castro closing, The Holland will serve as a vital pathway to get people into housing.

The innovative Henry Robinson Rapid Rehousing model was developed about four years ago to address the growing number of unsheltered, single individuals living on the streets. This approach provides transitional housing for short stays of about 4-6 months. Program staff work to stabilize people; help them get document-ready for permanent housing; connect them to a medical care home, mental health services, and substance abuse treatment; and then focus on placing clients in permanent housing. After people are placed, they are provided ongoing support to keep them housed, including funds to assist with furniture, security deposits, and small subsidies if necessary to ensure their success. To date, 88% of the people who complete the program, who came from the street, end up in permanent housing—a phenomenal success rate. This program is a critical component to end homelessness in Oakland.

The Housing & Community Development Department oversaw the acquisition and rehabilitation of the building, while the Human Services Department will manage the contract with BACS overseeing the day-to-day management.


Additionally, in January 2018, Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Oakland Housing Authority launched “Housing Oakland,” a program designed to secure and increase Section 8 housing for low-income families. 

Housing Oakland gives property owners a $500 cash bonus and up to $2,500 in interest-free loans for repairs and upgrades if they sign a contract with the Oakland Housing Authority allowing a Section 8 family to move in.

The program also provides current Section 8 property owners who lose a tenant with up to two months of paid rent as an incentive to keep the unit enrolled as Section 8 housing. Click here to learn more about this program.