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Our Response

The City of Oakland has taken emergency action and also developed strategies to mitigate unsheltered homelessness.

Cities along the West Coast are facing an encampment crisis. Oakland is solving it in a unique way. We're bringing together corporate partners, community volunteers, and City staff to move people off sidewalks and into services. 

Oakland is in constant contact with state and federal officials, elected leaders, housing experts, services providers, and advocates from across the state and country regarding homelessness. These relationships provide a platform to learn and share information about trends and best practices, and play a crucial rule in how Oakland develops and evaluates its approach to homelessness.

UPDATE: (October 2018) Oakland City Council Approved $8.6 million Emergency Funding

The City of Oakland received an unprecedented $8.6 million through the state’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP). A group of bi-partisan mayors from the state’s largest 11 cities successfully lobbied to add this funding to the State budget, and Oakland was the first city in California to apply.

On October 30, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution that authorizes the City Administrator to use $6.6 million of the HEAP funds to provide beds, shelter, and services to an estimated 1,000 unsheltered residents within one year—roughly half of the population living outdoors in Oakland according to Alameda County’s 2017 Point-in-Time Survey. This includes:

  1. Three new Community Cabin sites (Tuff Shed shelters) to shelter residents living in dangerous, unregulated street encampments in West, Central, and East Oakland. This program provides emergency shelter, services and a path to transitional and permanent housing while eliminating the health and safety issues encampments have on surrounding neighborhoods.

    •    The new Cabin Communities will be at:

      • 3050 International Blvd (City property)—Serving East 12th & 23rd Avenue, which will be displaced by the 23rd Avenue Bridge Retrofit Project.

      • 3401 Mandela Parkway (Caltrans property large enough to accommodate two Community Cabin sites)—Serving 35th & Peralta, the 2400 to 2600 block of Wood Street, and encampments near the Emeryville border.

      • 105 5th Street (Caltrans parcel under 880 from Oak to Madison streets)—For several smaller encampments near Jack London Square and Chinatown. This site can also serve residents at the Castro Cabin Community, which will close in March 2019.    

    • The City expects to spend an estimated $4.5 million to operate these sites for 18 months and is still actively raising private contributions to purchase needed cabins and supplies, and build the sites.

  2. Four managed recreational vehicle (RV) sites in East, Central, and West Oakland for up to 150 RVs with secure parking, sanitary facilities, and garbage services. Planned locations include: 

    • 3499 Beach Street, connected to the proposed double Community Cabin site at 3401 Mandela

    • 711 71st Avenue across from Coliseum BART

    • 3801 East 8th Street near High Street and I-880

    • 11 4th Street

  3. An agreement with the Lao Family Foundation to manage a volunteer encampment in partnership with “The Village” at 1449 Miller Avenue, the site of the former Miller Avenue Library, for their residents displaced by the 23rd Avenue Bridge Retrofit Project.

  4. Increasing the number of year-round shelter beds from 350 to 450, and operating the winter shelter year-round.

  5. An $800,000 grant agreement with Bay Area Community Services to provide day-to-day management of the interim housing program for unsheltered residents at The Holland, the new rapid rehousing facility at 641 Grand Ave.

Continuum of Interventions to Address Homeless Crisis

The City of Oakland has been investing in a wide variety of critical efforts to house individuals. Since the crisis has escalated over the past two years, the City:

  • Launched the Community Cabin Program (aka Tuff Shed shelters). This model has been an effective and compassionate intervention focused on increasing people’s health, stability, dignity, and safety, while service providers intensively work with people to help end their unsheltered status. With a 68 percent success rate to date, the Community Cabins are a successful emergency intervention designed to serve as a temporary bridge from the sidewalk to services, from the street to housing.

  • Worked to create more transitional and permanent affordable housing, including for very low-income residents, funded by Measure KK (City of Oakland) and Measure A1 (Alameda County).

  • Formed an interdepartmental Encampment Management Team that responds to homelessness.

  • Implemented a more coordinated approach to providing services to unsheltered residents that prioritizes those most in need and increased the numbers of outreach workers and housing navigators working directly with people on the streets.

  • Expanded its number of winter shelter beds and extended it year-round.

  • Expanded housing navigation and street outreach.

  • Secured a large youth rapid re-housing grant.

  • Invested in anti-displacement, rent arbitration, eviction prevention, and critical prevention efforts.

  • Offered financial incentives for Oakland-based landlords to rent to Section 8 voucher holders.

  • Mayor Libby Schaaf joined a 14-city group, “Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment” that aligns business partners with local governments to seek federal money for affordable housing and homeless services.

  • Mayor Schaaf is also part of the Big 11 Mayors in California which is advocating for direct allocations to their cities of state HEAP (Homeless Emergency Aid Program) funds. Oakland is receiving $8.6 million to address unsheltered homelessness.

The Department of Human Services provides ongoing support for the city's network of safety net services and work with partners to provide housing services for homeless and at-risk populations. Services provided by DHS include: an Emergency Housing Program, the Winter Relief Program, the Emergency Winter Shelter, and a Homeless Mobile Outreach Program. 

The City cleans several encampment areas each week. For a list and schedule of clean up activities citywide, View Oakland’s Keep Oakland Clean and Beautiful page. 

Rapid Re-Housing and TRansitional Housing

In 2017, the City Council allocated $14 million to buy a building to establish a second multi-service center, similar to the existing Henry Robinson Center, which serves about 300 people a year with 87 percent finding permanent housing within six months. 

AFFORDABLE & PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING

The answer to homelessness is housing. In the past decade, the Bay Area has added one unit of housing for every eight jobs created, and very little of the housing built has been subsidized enough to house low and very low income people. 

Partnering With Alameda County

Oakland has 50 percent of the county's homeless population. That number is rising. The county has traditionally served as the social safety net and primary provider of health, mental health and addiction recovery services. The county, through its Continuum of Care program provides the majority of the city's funding for homeless services. 

Policies & Advocacy Opportunities

There are a number of policies and legislation that include Just Cause, Tenant Move Out Ordinance, AB 3139, SB 2 and SB 3, which are aimed at ameliorating homelessness. 

PartnerShIPs and Coalitions

Because homelessness is rising across the state and country, Oakland partners with other cities and mayors, and builds public-private partnerships to secure more funding to address unsheltered homelessness. Statewide counts estimate there were more than 134,000 homeless individuals in California at the end of 2017.