Oakland Launches Rental Subsidy Pilot to Stop Displacement, Prevent Homelessness

200 Households to Receive a “Shallow Subsidy” in Cost-Effective Pilot to Prevent Highest-Risk Residents from Leaving Oakland or Falling into Homelessness

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Link to Nov. 16 Press Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi7H0qKl3rM

Link to brief explainer video: https://youtu.be/SNN6HaSVX8I

Oakland, California — Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and community partners announced a new pilot program today that provides 200 households a portion of their monthly rent to stop their displacement from Oakland and prevent them from experiencing homelessness.

The innovative “shallow subsidy” program focuses on families who live in Oakland’s most vulnerable communities and are at the highest risk for being displaced or becoming homeless. A report published earlier this year by Alameda County’s EveryOne Home, “Centering Racial Equity in Homeless System Design”, identified 920 Oakland households who could most benefit from an ongoing rental subsidy.

A “shallow subsidy” is a smaller portion of a household’s rent, compared to a larger subsidy -- such as the federal “Section 8” Housing Choice Vouchers, which often covers the majority or all of a household’s monthly housing payment, or Permanent Supportive Housing for people with mental or physical disabilities that includes important but expensive support services.

Many residents do not need a full rental subsidy or support services, but rather a smaller, more targeted amount. The 200 households participating in Oakland’s pilot will receive an average of $726 per month for 18 months -- enough to safely cover their monthly obligation and prevent them falling behind on other bills.

“A shallow subsidy is not only something that is missing from our current response to homelessness, but it’s one of the interventions that is most likely to close the racial disparity,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I’m grateful our community partners have come together to address the housing crisis and provide support to our most vulnerable families.”

Residents began receiving the “shallow subsidy” disbursements in July, after the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation raised $3.4 million from local and regional philanthropic partners.

"The Oakland Fund for Public Innovation is extremely proud to be a key partner in launching the Oakland shallow subsidy pilot,” said Juma Crawford, Executive Director of the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation. “We hope that by centering equity at the core of this work and by proving real impact, this cost-effective pilot becomes a sustainable policy solution to curbing homelessness for some of our most vulnerable residents and families here in Oakland."

The Oakland pilot is being evaluated by researchers at the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative (BHHI). The 200 households are eligible to receive their “shallow subsidies” for up to 18 months, and some may not need the subsidy each month, depending on financial health. For the 920 families in Oakland who were identified in the County’s report as the most vulnerable households, it’s estimated that it would cost $10 million a year to prevent them from becoming homeless.

“What we hope to learn from this novel program is whether providing a shallow rent subsidy is enough to prevent homelessness and help low-income families thrive,” said Dr. Margot Kushel, Director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.

Ultimately, the goal is for the Oakland pilot to lead to larger policy changes at the regional, state and federal levels. Developing a body of evidence on initiatives that work will lead to systemic changes required to ultimately end the housing and homelessness crisis.

"Oakland is diverse and powerful, and leadership on this housing challenge will help us keep it that way,” said Jaime Almanza, CEO of BACS, who is facilitating the program. “Our community needs us to do whatever it takes to respond to the growing housing crisis. These shallow subsidies will help Oakland neighbors stabilize. This pilot is born from and rooted in equity, focusing on neighborhoods where rents have increased as much as 90% since 2012, pushing many local families of color out of their homes. By reducing the rent burden for these families, we can stop homelessness and displacement before they start.”

“Shallow subsidies may prove to be a very valuable part of our range of strategies to reduce homelessness," said Kerry Abbott, Alameda County's Director of Homeless Care and Coordination. "Along with other housing solutions, deploying these supports helps individuals and families in need of housing stability, and promotes equity in our community.”


“Kaiser Permanente recognizes that having safe, stable, and affordable housing is key to keeping people healthy and to improving the health of our communities,” said Yvette Radford, vice president, Kaiser Permanente Northern California External and Community Affairs. “As an organization committed to prevention, we are proud to support this common-sense approach to keep Oakland’s families and individuals healthy and secure in their homes.”

“Philanthropic dollars alone won't end poverty, but philanthropy can play a unique role by investing and testing new ideas to our most pressing problems, which government can then scale," said Sam Cobbs, CEO of Tipping Point Community, an early investor in the pilot. “The Shallow Subsidy pilot is a prime example of this, bringing together philanthropy, incredible nonprofit providers and government to help prevent homelessness for our neighbors and create a Bay Area where everyone has an opportunity to prosper.”


Oakland Fund for Public Innovation

The Oakland Fund reaches across the city, engaging private partners to innovate, test and scale ideas that enhance Oakland. The Fund strives to improve the prosperity, safety and quality of life for all Oaklanders with projects that:

  • Build a more trustworthy and responsive government
  • Allow Oaklanders to stay rooted and thrive in our city
  • Create a more vibrant and connected Oakland for all who live, work and play here.

Crankstart Foundation

Crankstart is a family foundation based in San Francisco, CA, which works with others to address immediate problems and their underlying causes. Our main interests are education, economic and racial justice, civic engagement, the basic sciences, and climate. Crankstart supports leaders and organizations that demonstrate know-how in areas of critical need and that have the ambition and grit required to tackle what often seems impossible.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve almost 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. http://about.kaiserpermanente.org

Tipping Point Community

In the Bay Area, 1.1 million people don’t have the resources they need to meet their basic needs. Since 2005, Tipping Point has invested nearly $300 million for housing, early childhood, education, and employment solutions in the region. Our board covers 100% of our operating costs, so every dollar donated goes where it’s needed most. Last year, our grantees provided life-changing services to more than 500,000 of our neighbors across the Bay Area. For 15 years, Tipping Point has been a non-profit support system for the organizations that serve as our community’s safety net.


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Posted: November 16th, 2021 1:54 PM

Last Updated: November 19th, 2021 9:06 AM

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