Oakland, CA – Today Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Emeryville Mayor Christian Patz were joined by Oakland City Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney (District 3—West Oakland) and Dan Kalb (District 1—North Oakland) to announce the opening of Family Matters, a new emergency shelter for unhoused families located in Emeryville near the Oakland border. The new shelter is a partnership between the two cities to address a significant shortage of shelter beds to meet the needs of unhoused families in the northern part of Alameda County. The current family homeless system is at capacity almost every night. Shelter space for fathers with children is especially limited.
“Every family should go to sleep at night in a safe and clean sanctuary they call home,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “The crisis of homelessness knows no city limits. The Family Matters shelter exemplifies the power of working across city lines. I want to thank Mayor Patz and City Manager Christine Daniel of the City of Emeryville for their vision and partnership in addressing the region-wide crisis of Bay Area homelessness.”
She added, “Homelessness is a health crisis, and it is also a justice crisis. Structural racism is a driver of homelessness. This moment should be seen as something that is relevant to the demands for justice that we are hearing from our people.”
“Justice starts with housing, and we are pleased that Emeryville had the land and the site to bring housing and services to our community,” said Emeryville Mayor Christian Patz. “This project highlights the tremendous collaboration and a spirit of partnership that does not cling to regional boundaries.”
“This is a place of respite for families, a safe place to sleep and an opportunity to dream big. We want to thank the taxpayers of Emeryville and Oakland for entrusting us with the resources to open this facility, to provide a place of caring, so that when that unsheltered mom is holding her baby, your arms are around her, too,” said Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
“We know that we are not yet able to help every unhoused person become sheltered, but our top priority should be children. This is a fabulous partnership that focuses on meeting the needs of families and our children,” said Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb.
The Family Matters shelter will provide safety and stability for up to 25 families (up to 100 people) at one time (including fathers with children) along with the resources and services to permanently end their homelessness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, occupancy will be limited to approximately 10 families to allow each family to be safely distanced from each other. The shelter will welcome all family configurations defined as an adult with a child under the age of 18.
The Family Matters shelter will be operated by the East Oakland Community Project (EOCP), a well-established homeless services agency in Oakland that has been providing shelter to homeless populations since 1990. EOCP currently operates a 145-bed shelter in East Oakland (including 25 family beds) as well as 23 units of family transitional housing, and nine units of young adult transitional housing. They bring a wealth of experience in providing emergency shelter services to families.
- The shelter will be staffed 24/7 with residential counselors and will remain open to clients during the day.
- Supportive services include on-site housing navigation (case management) and employment support. The targeted length of stay for families is 4-6 months, although some families may stay longer.
- Flexible housing funds are available to assist families with move-in expenses (deposits, first month rent) and to provide short-term housing subsidies.
- A microwave and refrigerator is available for families on site and full meals will be prepared off site and delivered to the shelter each day.
Services for Children
- This former recreation center was easily converted to a space that is comfortable for children. A large room inside the shelter will be designated as a children’s play space/ educational space.
- On-site support for children will include Head Start services for young children and academic support, tutoring, and mentoring for school age children.
- There is also ample outdoor play space available in the rear of the building, shielded from the street and neighboring buildings by a fence.
- Families will be referred to the shelter through the North County Family Coordinated Entry system, the Family Front Door (FFD).
- Only families who have been assessed by the FFD and matched to a shelter bed will use the shelter.
- Beds are not available on a drop-in basis.
- To connect with the Family Front Door, families should call 211.
The program will operate at the Emeryville location for approximately one year, during which time the City of Oakland will work to identify a suitable property in Oakland for this use. The cost of operating the shelter for one year (including all services and some short-term rental subsidies to assist with exits) is $1.5M. The shelter is being funded by a combination of City and State funds.
Mayor Schaaf also acknowledged the incredible ongoing support and generosity of our community partners—Jim Moore of Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods, and Mike Pyatok and Gary Struthers of Pyatok Architects—who have donated countless hours of architectural and site-planning expertise that have made Oakland’s various interventions designed to move people off the streets into housing a reality, including Oakland’s Cabin Communities, Safe RV Parking sites, Operation HomeBase RV site, and this family shelter renovation project.
The press conference can be viewed here: https://twitter.com/LibbySchaaf/status/1270389090848890880?s=20