Sixty-five homeless people will soon have warm, temporary shelter from winter rain and cold thanks to a new, tiny home village in Oakland, city officials said Monday.
Lakeview Village at Second Avenue and East 12th Street will begin housing people early this month and a waiting list has already developed.
The village is on city-owned land that has been slated for mixed-use housing for years and construction could begin next year, forcing the village to move. But for now, the public land will be used to help some of the city's most marginalized.
"This is a really important homeless intervention," City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said at a news briefing for the opening of Lakeview Village Monday. "Because the winter is upon us. The rains are upon us."
Lakeview Village is on the largest city-owned parcel in her district, her office said.
Bas said the village is a "supportive shelter project," meaning residents will receive help with a myriad of things including health, employment, public benefits, criminal record clearance, housing applications, credit repair and advocating with landlords.
Also, on the same parcel of land, 16 other people will be housed in similar tiny homes by a separate service provider.
Lakeview Village will be managed by the Housing Consortium of the East Bay, which has experience helping homeless people find housing and restore their lives.
The tiny homes will have electric heat, a smoke detector, carbon monoxide monitor, fire extinguisher, a door that locks, and storage. The village will have potable water, showers as well as onsite security.
Residents will also receive three meals each day.
"I just hope this is a door opening around Oakland," said homeless Black advocate Nino Parker, who started the homeless encampment on the same parcel.
Parker said public space should not be used by developers. He said the most important thing is more housing.
If the village must move, the homes by PalletShelters can be taken down in a matter of minutes and stood up in a matter of minutes, Bas said.
Lakeview Village is different than Oakland's community cabins in that they are single occupancy and have more physical amenities such as heat.
Residents of the village can also stay as long as they need to.
James Vann, an early founder of the city's Homeless Advocacy Working Group, which has been around for about three years and develops policies and recommendations for the City Council around homelessness, is optimistic.
He said Lakeview Village is close to what the working group has proposed to the city to house its homeless population.
He sees no way to meet the demand with traditional housing, which costs $600,000 per affordable unit and takes five years from envisioning to move-in.
Instead, the working group has advocated for an "accommodations immediately" policy.
Lakeview Village comes close to achieving that aim, Vann said.
Parker, while optimistic, said unlike some other cities, Oakland does not have any navigations centers where homeless people can go to get help with many needs.
People can go to navigation centers, for example, to find out what housing is available or to get medical care for a friend at a homeless encampment, he said.
The cost was $2.4 million to prepare the parcel at Second Avenue and East 12th Street for all 81 homes as well as a parcel at Third and Peralta streets, Bas's office said. The cost to operate Lakeview Village will be $1.3 million per year, which will go to the Housing Consortium of the East Bay.