Oakland wins $17M for new housing initiative

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The city of Oakland is on track to create another 100 beds of permanent housing for high risk populations after receiving $17 million in funding for the project from the state.

The city is converting the 22-unit Inn at Temescal and an 82-unit SRO downtown into housing for veterans, recently released prisoners and people at high risk of a serious case of COVID-19. Move-ins could start as early as January.

"These units will be permanent housing, not just temporary shelters,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “This is where these vulnerable Oaklanders will get to live out the rest of their days in comfort, security and decency."

Schaaf says when they moved unhoused people into motels during the pandemic, they realized just how impactful it is to give someone a space of their own, instead of a bed in a communal shelter.

"People want privacy. They want to go to bed at night behind a locked door with their partner and their pets and their possessions. The hotel room provided that," said Schaaf.

The state is also embracing the strategy through Project Homekey, a statewide housing initiative.

But a similar project has attracted controversy in Novato when the Marin County Board of Supervisors proposed buying a motel for the same purpose, without input from residents or city leaders. Residents of a wealthy community nearby have objected to the proposal because of security concerns.