OAKLAND, CA – Today, Mayor Libby Schaaf attended an event at the Alameda County Administration Building where initial data from the county’s 2017 homeless persons point-in-time count was released.
The count is coordinated by Alameda County’s Continuum of Care organization, EveryOne Home, and is an enumeration of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single day.
This year’s count was held from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on January 30, 2017 when 345 volunteers, including Mayor Schaaf, and 99 guides covered every census tract in the county to determine the number unsheltered residents. The count also includes a tally of shelter populations, transition age youth experiencing homelessness, and a survey to gather demographic information.
The data released today records 5,629 people experiencing homelessness in Alameda County, with 3,863 of those individuals living unsheltered in tents, parks, vehicles, vacant buildings, or on the street. In the City of Oakland, the count found 2,761 individuals experiencing homelessness, 1,902 of whom were unsheltered. The survey also revealed that 82% of these individuals were residents of Alameda County prior to becoming homeless.
“I don’t need to tell anyone who travels our streets that homelessness has reached a crisis level in Oakland,” said Mayor Schaaf, speaking at the event. “It is painful to see so many unsheltered residents living on our streets in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Every Oaklander deserves safe, affordable housing. Every resident struggling with disabilities, mental illness or chemical dependency deserves dignity and care.”
Following remarks by EveryOne Home’s Executive Director Elaine de Coligny and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Mayor Schaaf highlighted the immediate steps that the City of Oakland is taking, in collaboration with the County, to tackle the homelessness crisis. These steps include:
- Improving routine cleanups around encampments and adding health and hygiene services in-place: Based on the successful Compassionate Communities pilot, the Mayor’s proposed budget will allow the City to bring sanitation and trash service to up to 400 unsheltered residents a year to improve living conditions for those experiencing homelessness while making our streets cleaner and safer. This budget, in concert with a funding request to Alameda County, will allow the City to transition communities to Oakland’s first Safe Haven Outdoor Navigation Center, as residents wait to be placed into transitional and then permanent housing.
- Acquisition of a new navigation center-style transitional housing facility: The Mayor’s proposed budget invests up to $10 million to acquire a new navigation center-style facility in downtown Oakland, allowing the City to bring 600 residents a year into safe, supportive housing. The existing Henry Robinson Center has transitioned more than 80% of its residents into permanent housing.
- Building and preserving affordable housing: The Mayor’sbudget proposes $50 million to build and preserve permanently affordable housing for Oakland’s lowest income residents. This does not include the $30-50 million the City will receive over the next two years thanks to Alameda County’s Measure A1. This amounts to a tenfold increase in the money for affordable and homeless housing compared to last year’s budget.
- Fighting displacement that leads to homelessness: Oakland just expanded just cause eviction laws to protect more renters as part of a larger effort to strengthen renter protections and services. Property owners now must petition to raise rents above the cost of living, and must pay higher relocation fees. The City has also expanded services to ensure more renters know their rights and can access free help to defend themselves. These services should protect 4,000 Oaklanders from displacement this year.
The Mayor also announced that she will work with EveryOne Home to convene a summit this summer where experts and key stakeholders will develop a new plan to address the homelessness crisis.
“We are deeply committed to collaboration, as well as drawing on the full strength of this engaged community to tackle its challenges,” said Schaaf. “We will bring the combined strength of our knowledge and resources to bear on this urgent crisis. We need all hands on deck to end homelessness and fight all the impacts of this affordability crisis.”
Mayor Schaaf concluded her remarks by urging engaged residents to go to EveryOneHome.org and sign up to join a working committee or donate funds to help deliver critical services.
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