Oakland considers new 1,000-person homeless shelter

Acknowledging a desperate need for new interventions to address the area’s homelessness crisis, the Oakland City Council will consider building a new shelter for 1,000 unhoused people on the site of the city’s old Army base.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to direct staff to research the idea and report back next month on its feasibility and projected cost. The 22-acre parcel near the city’s waterfront is one of the last large, undeveloped pieces of publicly owned land in the city, presenting a rare opportunity to build a large-scale project, according to Councilmember Carroll Fife, who introduced the resolution.

“I’m tired of being told what can’t happen when it comes to addressing some of my district’s greatest challenges,” she said in a statement. “(District three) constituents, housed and unhoused, deserve better. We spend millions of dollars in maintaining people living on the streets. A creative, proactive effort could redirect those dollars if there was the political will to do so.”

Oakland had more than 3,000 people living on its streets as of its last count in 2019, and another nearly 1,000 people sleeping in shelters. The city conducted another census this year, and the results — which are generally viewed as an undercount because it’s easy for volunteer counters to miss people — are expected this summer.

As encampments spread over Oakland’s streets, sidewalks, open spaces and public parks, the city has stood up multiple tiny home villages for unhoused people, moving them out of encampments and into small cabins designed to serve as temporary shelters while the occupants wait for affordable housing . The city recently opened a tiny home site in Fife’s West Oakland district, and another near Lake Merritt.

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