Making It in the Bay

Dozens to Ring in the New Year in New Apartments Thanks to Project Homekey

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Dozens of homeless families and seniors in Oakland will not be ringing in the new year on the streets. They’ll be celebrating in new dorm-style apartments. 

All thanks to money from the state’s Project Homekey initiative, which gives cities and counties much-needed cash to buy up hotels, motels and other buildings to house the homeless. 

At the base of Oakland’s upscale Rockridge neighborhood sits this 4-story building, Clifton Hall. It used to be a dorm for students attending the California College of Arts. But after CCA moved all its students to its San Francisco campus earlier this year, the building sat empty for months. The city of Oakland jumped at the chance to buy Clifton Hall using $20 million from the state’s Homekey program. The dorm building that used to be filled with art students will now be a shelter for families and a permanent home for seniors. 

“Two families will share a bathroom but each family will have their own living dwelling,” said Terrance Thompson, the director of transitional housing for the East Oakland Community Project. Monday was move-in day for some of the new residents, including dozens of mattresses. 

“This does a great deal in helping families stabilize their lives and get in a position to move forward,” said Thompson.

Most of the rooms will go to seniors who are most at risk from catching COVID-19. There will also be supportive services on site to help struggling parents find work, get their finances in order and find permanent housing. Not lost on Thompson – Clifton Hall’s zip code, where according to Redfin, the average home is sold for more than $1.5 million.

“For many years this is going to serve as a bedrock to help people move forward in life and help them provide better opportunities,” Thompson said.

A fresh start to the new year for Oakland’s most vulnerable residents. 

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