By Elpidio R. Estioko
Oakland, CA – Homelessness is one of the major issues the city of Oakland is facing. Just like the 13 major cities in California with heavy concentration of homeless residents, Oakland has to be creative and bold in addressing the problem. Last year, city statistics said it surpassed the 2,761 homeless people with about 1, 902 people who were unsheltered.
When asked in an interview with this reporter early last year’s city plan to close all the existing homeless camps around the perimeter of Lake Merrit, Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “We are treating our homeless population with great compassion. We allowed them to sleep at night in said camping area and we provided security at night to make sure they are safe…We have 20 little cabins with 20 occupants in each cabin. For unsheltered residents, we are allowing them to camp in parks and nearby places in the cabin. until we can look at additional camps for them,”
Mayor Schaaf said in a span of one year, about 20 per cent of the homeless people have transitioned to normal life… which is great. They are looking at additional sites to shelter the rest of the unsheltered people and have identified the Turf Shed camp as possible site and they are putting up additional six cabins this year.
Then Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Homeless Emergency Aid Program as per SB850 allocating $500 M funding. Mayor Schaaf said the budget funding was raised to $650 M this year and of this amount, Oakland was able to get an allocation of $8 M last year which budget was able to fund the Turf Shed Camp.
Mayor Schaaf assured this reporter that the city will continue to address the homelessness issue with great compassion and will look for creative ways yearly to address the issue.