East Bay Times, by Marisa Kendall
OAKLAND — A new program designed to reach Oakland residents before they become homeless has blown past its initial goals, serving more than 2,100 households since its inception, Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday.
Keep Oakland Housed, launched in 2018, provides emergency financial assistance to residents who have fallen behind on their rent, and offers legal assistance to those faced with eviction lawsuits. Because of those efforts, 2,117 households — representing more than 4,000 individuals — did not end up on the streets during the first half of the three-year pilot program, according to an analysis by the program administrator, the San Francisco Foundation.
“That is incredible,” Schaaf said Monday during a news conference at City Hall. “It just shows what a partnership can do when we come together to take on this humanitarian crisis of homelessness as well as displacement. We want to keep Oakland Oakland, and that starts with keeping Oaklanders in Oakland.”
Schaaf touted the program’s initial success as the city is grappling with a major crisis of homelessness. The number of unhoused residents increased by nearly 50% between 2017 and 2019, according to the city’s latest point-in-time count, and encampments resembling shanty towns have taken over empty lots, while tents and RVs line city streets. Monday’s update on Keep Oakland Housed comes days before Schaaf is set to give her State of the City address Friday at the Oakland Museum of California.
Keep Oakland Housed is a partnership between Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and East Bay Community Law Center, and is funded by donors including Kaiser Permanente, the San Francisco Foundation and Crankstart — a charity run by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Moritz and his wife, novelist Harriet Heyman.