The 2019 Point-In-Time count verifies that the homelessness problem in Alameda County grew by at least 43%, and in Oakland by at least 47% over the 2017 count. The fact that homelessness is a fast-growing county-wide epidemic is not debatable. The destructive epidemic directly affects the lives of the many who are displaced onto the streets, threatens the public health of all residents as well as those displaced, and diminishes the environment and quality of life of people, neighborhoods, and communities throughout Alameda County.
Oakland accounts for over 50% of the County’s homeless population, with at least 90 impromptu encampments and over 4000 unhoused residents throughout the city, making Oakland “ground zero” for desperate need requiring urgent and immediate action.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors identified three (3) county properties for possible disposition:
(1) The abandoned former Social Services Headquarters at 401 Broadway (potentially for RFP);
(2) The abandoned Parole Department at 430 Broadway & 495 5th Street (potentially for RFP); and associated miscellaneous buildings.
(3) The Glen Dyer Jail at 550 7th St (recently offered for $1 lease to the City of Oakland).
We, a group of homeless advocates, strongly urge the county to recall any current RFPs for these properties, and to dedicate the two Broadway properties and related buildings, in partnership with Oakland—or for interim $1 leases to the City of Oakland—specifically for anti-homelessness uses, including dedicating the proceeds from the sale of the jail property to fund such uses.
- Retrofit 401 Broadway as an SRO-type residential facility. Co-management models may be employed to reduce the costs of administration and management.
- Retrofit 430 Broadway to house families with children, seniors, unaccompanied minors, persons with disabilities, and youth transitioning from foster homes. These populations are underserved by present city or county homelessness programs.
- At both the 401 Broadway & the 430 Broadway properties, provide “Service Center” provisions, including personal storage, lockers, laundry facilities, showers and sanitation. Other services might include counseling & evaluation; employment & skills training, and navigation assistance.
- Sell the Glen Dyer Jail and earmark proceeds of the sale for the production of permanent housing for the homeless. Annually, increase the Homelessness Fund by substantial cash allocations for direct subsidies to assist unsheltered and at-risk households to both obtain and to maintain permanent housing.
- Deploy best practices, model and test innovative programs and methods, and monitor and measure operations for effectiveness and replication.
- Create a citizen engagement task force to establish effective communications and neighborhood and community partnerships together with homeless populations and advocacy organizations.
The complexity of the physical, economic, and social issues of homelessness is daunting and the potential solutions can seem as complex as the problems. While the potential of these three parcels will not be a final solution, their urgent deployment could be timely, effective, and beneficial interventions.
This recommendation and request could also be a “win-win” for city, county, the homeless, and the city’s neighborhoods. Interim use of these properties in their non-residential locations avoids the inevitable clash of neighborhood opposition, Additionally, the economic resource to the county represented by these abandoned and currently unused properties is not lost, but only delayed. Following interim use, disposition of the properties could still take place, perhaps at a time when the present furor of development has settled and the appropriate type of disposition is more readily determined.
Your combined positive action is urgently needed and your joint response is immensely appreciated.
We stand fully committed to beneficial solutions for homelessness and can be called upon for assistance or additional information as may be needed.
The members of:
The Homeless Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) • www.ShelterOak.org/hawg ShelterOak Advocates • www.ShelterOak.org
The East Oakland Collective (EOC) • www.eastoaklandcollective.com
The Village / Feed the People • thevillageinoakland.org
Just Cities/The Dellums Institute for Social Justice • dellumsinstitute.org
Brotherhood of Elders Network • brotherhoodofelders.net
The David R. Brower, Ronald V. Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies and Action (ISPS/A) • browerdellumsinstitute.org/
U-Inspire • u-inspire.org
The signatories of the change.org petition