The city of Oakland, Kaiser Permanente, and a homeless services group announced on Thursday a plan to provide interim housing and support services to 50 residents of a homeless camp along Broadway at Mosswood Park in North Oakland.
Oakland officials said support for the homeless camp residents is the latest of many partnerships to meet the immediate needs of unsheltered people as well as tackling the root causes of homelessness. City officials said Kaiser Permanente and the homeless services group Operation Dignity have committed to multiple efforts to address the Bay Area’s housing crisis, including providing financial support to the cabin community in Oakland’s Northgate area.
Oakland officials said addressing homelessness is important because a 2019 survey indicated that the city’s homeless population rose 47 percent between 2017 and 2019, accounting for nearly half of Alameda County’s total homeless residents at a time when cities around the Bay Area are responding to the surge in homelessness.
“We need to act swiftly and with a sense of urgency to keep the residents and families of Oakland housed in the midst of the Bay Area housing crisis,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “This latest initiative with Operation Dignity and Kaiser Permanente is yet another example of how Oakland is working with our community partners to provide adequate housing and alleviate some of the economic and social burdens of homelessness,” the mayor said.
As part of the agreement, Kaiser Permanente will provide funds to Operation Dignity to better identify and address the needs of homeless camp residents, including security, sanitation and housing challenges. Operation Dignity will provide homeless people who are living at Mosswood Park with housing navigation support, one-on-one case management, funding for security officers, storage for belongings and flexible subsidies to help with move-in expenses.
More than 30 former encampment residents have received interim housing and support services so far, Oakland officials said. Janet Liang, regional president for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said, “We cannot stand by as an increasing number of individuals and families find themselves calling the streets of Oakland their home.” Liang said, “Addressing homelessness is crucial to improving the health of the communities we serve. This is why we are investing in programs and services to address homelessness and the underlying social, economic and health issues that contribute to the problem.”
Kaiser Permanente said it announced a $25 million commitment earlier this month to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s newly announced fund to combat homelessness in the state as well as an impact investment to preserve and produce affordable housing in the health care provider’s markets across the nation. Marguerite Bachand, Operation Dignity’s executive director, said, “Our housing navigators are able to work with each encampment resident to determine the best affordable housing options.” Bachand said, “Our housing navigators also connect residents to other services to support their housing stability, economic security, and well-being, including access to health care, meal programs and employment support.”