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Oakland, CA – On Monday, May 7, Mayor Libby Schaaf joined City staff, service providers, and private funders for a walk-thru of the new “Tuff Shed shelter,” also known as the Community Cabins at 27th and Northgate. This is the second temporary site that the City of Oakland has opened in the past six months as part of an ongoing pilot project. The location was chosen in response to the persistent public health and safety hazards at the adjacent encampment, one of Oakland’s largest.
“Cities all along the West Coast are facing an encampment crisis,” said Mayor Schaaf. “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. Our Tuff Shed shelters are a quick and temporary fix, and they help prepare unsheltered residents for their next step into housing.”
Like the first site at 6th and Castro, which houses 40 residents in 20 structures, the new shelter site will allow residents to receive basic services as they work with on-site case managers to transition into temporary and permanent housing facilities. Both sites afford a consistency not found in the encampments: a hard roof to sleep under every night; a community network of friends and consistent resources; a supportive staff of case managers to connect residents to vital needs such as acquiring California ID, securing benefits, seeking employment, and ultimately getting housed.
Over the past several weeks, the City has been reaching out to unsheltered residents in the adjacent encampment to prepare them for their community's transition, as well as meeting with nearby housed residents regarding progress of the site.
Key additions to this second site are a better cabin layout, an extra window, added insulation, more storage space for personal items, a more secure door with a deadbolt on each individual cabin, and low voltage electricity to each cabin. As in the first site, the Northgate site will also have a dog run.
Service providers who were on-hand today and will provide ongoing support at the site include: Operation Dignity, Bay Area Community Services, and Lava Mae, a mobile shower provider.
Local charitable partners and private funders who have contributed monetary and in-kind support to stand up the second site include: Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Sutter Health, Alameda County, Tuff Sheds, Pyatok Architecture, Jim Moore of Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods, Lane Partners, Douglas Parking, and ITS ConGlobal,
The site is located on Caltrans property. Caltrans has leased the site to Oakland for one year with an option for a second year if needed.
Meanwhile, the City continues to address the need for more transitional and permanent affordable housing. The City recently acquired a former SRO hotel that will provide more transitional housing and services with the goal of rapidly re-housing people, like in our successful Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center, which serves 300 recently homeless people each year and has an 88 percent success rate of placing clients into permanent housing when they exit.
“We are fortunate to have many valuable partners participating in the process alongside us who understand the scale of this crisis and are generously providing vital monetary and in-kind support to help us continue with this ongoing pilot project,” Mayor Schaaf said.
Oakland also recently announced new financial incentives for Oakland-based landlords to rent to Section 8 voucher holders. For a range of reasons, Oakland has lost Section 8 units in recent years and the City is encouraging property owners to maintain their affordable housing units by leasing to Section 8 tenants.
Recognizing that cities cannot tackle this issue alone, Oakland recently joined two strong coalitions to generate more revenue to fight the crisis.
In January, we 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 has made several trips to Sacramento to lobby with mayors from California's largest cities to urge lawmakers to commit $1.5 billion from the state budget surplus to cities for homeless services.
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