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About $5 million was authorized Tuesday by the Oakland City Council to help address the city’s homeless epidemic.
Funding includes $2 million that can be spent on site preparation work for homeless intervention programs on city land or leased property.
Up to $1.2 million will be directed for the operation of a recreational vehicle parking site at 2201 and 2601 Wood St., and up to $1.5 million for an interim housing site at East 12th Street and Second Avenue. An additional $350,000 will go to an organization that will co-govern an encampment with unsheltered residents.
The council voted 7-0, with Councilmember Sheng Thao excused, directing the city administrator and his staff to spend the money, which is in the currently approved budget.
“This is such a huge priority,” City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said.
The interim housing site at East 12th Street and Second Avenue is in her district and will immediately house up to 60 people.
Between 2017 and 2019, Oakland’s homeless population jumped 47 percent. Most unsheltered residents are living in camps and vehicles and places not meant for living.
The site preparation work will be done through a contract with Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods that begins Tuesday and continues through June 30, 2022.
Tiny Logic has been chosen to provide the co-government services at a location to be determined. The site for recreational vehicles is being operated by Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency from July 1 through June 30, 2022. Housing Consortium of the East Bay was chosen to operate and provide services at the East 12th Street site.
More sites needed
“Today’s action should not be seen as the end,” Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan told her colleagues and the public. “We need more sites for vehicles.”
She said sanitation is also needed, noting that British Columbia, Canada, has public sites where people can dispose of human waste rather than allow it to create an unhealthy situation.
But today “is a very important step,” she said.
At least one site in each City Council district has been identified as a place where homeless residents might be helped.
Kaplan, who introduced the legislation, added that Oakland is expected to receive more funds from the state’s successful Project Homekey program. That program has quickly created permanent housing for homeless people in Oakland.
Project Homekey allows for existing buildings such as hotels to be converted into housing and for modular housing to be constructed for unsheltered residents.
Late last year, Oakland was successful in housing more than 100 unsheltered residents at Clifton Hall at 5276 Broadway. Clifton Hall was once a residence hall on the Oakland campus of the California College of the Arts.
Before the City Council’s action Tuesday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and two councilmembers announced an ordinance proposing to update the city’s zoning and building rules.
The update to what the leaders said are outdated rules would pave the way for, among other things, mobile and manufactured homes in the city. They are currently banned by city rules.