Oakland Aims To Make Emergency Housing Permanent

Crews in Oakland are racing to set up 60 emergency FEMA trailers to shelter vulnerable homeless residents before an anticipated surge in coronavirus cases in May. 

54 trailers will be set up near the Coliseum and six more for homeless youth will be installed near Jack London Square. The trailers still have to be hooked up to power and water but the hope is to get them ready for occupancy by May 1st. 

“The advice from health professionals is to not break up encampments,” says Mayor Libby Schaaf about the city’s strategy. “Being outdoors is sometimes more healthy, it lessens the viral load. So we really are being strategic as far in who we are prioritizing as far as getting of the street, into isolation.”

Alameda County is also leasing two hotels near the Oakland Airport to be used for medical isolation, but the city is hoping to line up hotel rooms to house the homeless, and the Mayor says she hopes that can be a permanent arrangement. 

“We actually want to find hotels that would be willing to sell at the end of the day, so that these can become hopefully permanent assets. The challenge is always to how pay for the operations but we really don’t want to have a situation where when the pandemic is over and we’re kicking people back out onto the street. We want to be strategic in this moment and do things now in the face of this emergency that can serve us in the long term.”

The number of cases in Alameda County now tops 600.