Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has promised to expedite funding for a faith-based proposal to utilize church parking lots for tiny homes and safe car parking for 500 or more the city’s homeless residents – but not this month.
Many people are demanding the mayor and her administration to act with urgency to help the homeless – noting that winter is coming, and the cold and rain will only make the emergency worse.
Last Wednesday, Mayor Schaaf called Pastor Ken Chambers, president of the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC), pledging to move ahead on a $300,000 grant. She told Pastor Chambers the proposal would go to a City Council committee this week and the following week to the full City Council for a vote.
The proposal has faced obstacles since early this year, waiting for Schaaf’s administration to act on it or even to return calls.
Despite the Mayor’s promise, the measure was delayed once again at the Life Enrichment Committee’s Tuesday meeting. The administration had placed it on the committee agenda as an informational report, not an action item, By law, the council cannot vote on a measure unless it was listed on the agenda as an action item.
City staff said on Tuesday the proposal would be scheduled for Life Enrichment in October and then go to the City Council. But by the Oakland Post’s deadline, the paperwork still had not been filed to hear the issue in October.
Speaking at the meeting, Pastor Chambers said that a number of churches and faith-based organizations are “all hands on deck with this safe car park and tiny home program.”
“You all the have power to move this forward,” he told council members.
Agreeing, Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan pointed out that the City Council on April 17 passed a resolution supporting the faith-based car park proposal, asked the City to find funding and return to council for action within three months, which expired July 17.
“We say it’s a crisis. We declare its an emergency. If we declare an emergency because of an earthquake that was causing 6,000 people to be out on our streets, we wouldn’t be here six months later without an action item,” she said.
“Other cities have started creating allowable RV locations. I really hope we can do that with all due haste,” Kaplan said. “That’s something that can be done quickly. I really want to see us take action on the proposal of the Interfaith Coalition.”
Kaplan told the Post she would make a motion at next Monday’s City Council meeting to fund the faith-based homeless proposal.
Because the City Council had already passed a motion in April supporting the proposal and asked for it to return to council, she believes there is a basis to offer an amendment on Monday to redirect funds from a motion supported by the mayor to allocate $500,000 to build 40 Tuff Sheds for the homeless.
“We have churches that want to help. It’s insane that we’ve been talking about this for almost a year,” Kaplan said. “And the faith-based proposal, at a fraction of the cost, would serve 500 people. not 40.”
The City Council meeting takes places Monday, Sept. 17 at Oakland City Hall at 5:30 p.m.