Oakland mayor vows to house twice as many homeless residents this year

Reporting on the state of the city in the midst of Oakland’s
overwhelming homelessness crisis, Mayor Libby Schaaf on Friday said
the city moved 880 homeless residents into housing last year —
and she pledged to double that number in 2020.

Speaking at the Oakland Museum of California, Schaaf used the
annual speech to highlight the strides her administration has taken
to address the city’s number-one issue: Its surging population of
unhoused residents. Oakland doubled its shelter capacity to more
than 1,700 beds over the past 28 months, she said. Schaaf’s Keep
Oakland Housed initiative, which offers financial assistance and
legal aid to renters at risk of losing their homes,
kept 2,100 households off the streets
in its first year and a
half.

Schaaf also reported progress on her 2016 promise to get 17,000
new housing units built by 2024. The city already has exceeded that
goal, she said, permitting 22,000 units in just four years. That
includes nearly 2,000 new affordable units — placing Oakland back
on track to reach its goal of 4,760 units by 2024. That’s an
improvement from
the city’s last update
. In March, city officials reported
permitting just 751 affordable units since 2016. Of those, 638 were
under construction at the time.

Furthermore, Schaaf said, evictions in Oakland are down by 36%
over the past five years, and rent prices are stabilizing.

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“We can not keep Oakland, Oakland, without keeping Oaklanders in
Oakland,” Schaaf said. “We are rising to this challenge with
urgency and compassion.”

As attendees filed in to hear Schaaf’s State of the City
speech, a handful of protesters gathered in front of the museum to
highlight what they say has been a lackluster response by this
administration to the homelessness crisis.

“I think the state of the city is horrendous,” said
29-year-old Cole McLean of the United Front Against Displacement,
an activist group that has been advocating for the rights of
homeless residents camping along Wood Street in West Oakland.

The solutions that the city has offered — including converting
sheds into “cabin communities” to be used as temporary housing,
and erecting safe parking sites for RVs — are subpar, McLean
said. Those programs don’t have enough space for everyone in
need, he said, and don’t provide the residents they do serve with
the dignity they deserve.

Dale Smith agreed, calling Oakland’s efforts to tackle the
homelessness crisis  “a complete and utter failure.”

None of the efforts Schaaf’s office has put forth have been
enough, he said.

“At the end of the day, people aren’t getting housed,”
Smith said.

As of the city’s last point-in-time count, conducted in
January 2019, there were 4,071 Oaklanders sleeping on the street,
in vehicles, in shelters or in other make-shift dwellings — up
47% from 2,761 people in 2017. Despite Schaaf’s creative attempts
to house people, tent encampments continue to sprawl over city
sidewalks and vacant lots, and RVs line the streets.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Oakland mayor vows to house twice as many homeless residents this year