Oakland, CA — Yesterday marked a watershed moment in the City of Oakland’s efforts to improve the lives of our unsheltered residents. In a ceremonial exchange Tuesday morning, 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.
“No one should sleep one night on the streets of Oakland,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “The encampments are unhealthy for everyone, and most of all for those who live in them. We will continue to work with urgency and compassion to upgrade the living conditions for those on our streets. We will also continue to build permanent affordable housing to shelter all residents, prevent displacement, and keep Oaklanders housed in Oakland.”
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.
Councilmember Guillen said, “This is truly a milestone in improving the state of our unhoused residents. Because of the generosity of Oakland taxpayers who passed Measure KK in 2016, we put $7 million to buy this building, and allocated another $8 million to complete similar housing projects. We know that this model works in ending homelessness, and we want to continue replicating it to care for more of our fellow residents who are otherwise forced to live on the streets, in our parks, or in their vehicles.”
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.
Oakland City Council Approves $8.6 million Emergency Funding
The State of California recently awarded the City of Oakland an unprecedented $8.6 million in funding through the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP). A group of bi-partisan mayors from the state’s largest 11 cities successfully lobbied to add the resources into the State budget, and Oakland was the first city in California to apply.
On Tuesday, October 30, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution that authorizes the City Administrator to use $6.6 million of the $8.6 million in HEAP funds to do the following:
The new sites will be located at:
These three new sites have the potential to move up to 320 currently unsheltered people out of homelessness. The cost to operate these sites is estimated at $4.5 million over an 18-month program.
Mayor Schaaf said, “Once all the sites are up and running, the City of Oakland will have provided beds, shelter, and social 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.
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:
Background: The Housing Affordability Crisis
In the past decade, the Bay Area added one unit of housing for every eight jobs created, and very little of the housing built was subsidized enough to help people in need. While the homeless population is rising, the federal government decreased its financial support for emergency shelter strategies, and the State eliminated redevelopment funding in 2011, which was the primary funding source cities used to build affordable housing.
California alone accounts for 25 percent of the nation’s homeless population. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of unsheltered residents in Oakland increased by 26 percent.
The last point-in-time count, conducted in January 2017, estimated that there are 2,761 homeless people in Oakland, of whom 1,902 are unsheltered. Details and demographic information can be found at EveryOne Home.
The mayors of Oakland & San Francisco have challenged each other to a Battle for the Bay on Creek to Bay Day, Sept. 21.