Oakland homeless supportive housing project back on track following a KTVU investigation

On a day when Oakland has become the nation's most homeless city per capita, it's hard to understand why unhoused people are being ousted from encampments as one major, fully-funded, project is languishing nearly a year behind schedule. 

The stagnating project can seeming be blamed on dysfunction in the City's permitting system. 

The project is now back on track, but this follows a KTVU investigation that highlighted the dysfunction surrounding the project. 

In 2022, the City of Oakland got $30 million in grants from the state for three housing projects. Two of the three projects are open, operating and thriving.

The Kingdom Builders Transitional Housing Program on International Boulevard was rehabilitated and currently houses between 75 and 100 formerly incarcerated men. 

"All the residents are assigned a case manager that helps them navigate the challenges and the issues they need to do to reach self-sufficiency," said Kingdom Builders Pastor L.J. Jennings.

The 45-unit Piedmont Place Hotel was opened for long-term residents who came from the streets. 

"The only unifying factor is that they were experiencing homelessness and were prioritized for permanent supportive housing [with] those additional supportive services needed on site," said Jonathan Russell, chief strategy and impact officer with Bay Area Community Services.


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Piedmont Place resident Matthew Harris, 33, says having a supportive place saved him from a continuing dependency on drugs, funded by stealing scooters and bikes. 

"I was having to think about how am I going to hustle and grind to make my money without the stuff I was doing in Berkeley, you know? But, I've got benefits now, so I'm pretty much taken care of," Harris said.

But the third project, The Inn by the Coliseum, was supposed to be up and running late last year, and as of Thursday, it sits idle and forlorn despite $11 million available.

The developers blame it on Oakland's permitting system. The City of Oakland blames the developers, Danco Communities and Operation Dignity, for not paying permitting fees.

The City of Oakland offered no interview but issued a statement: "The City of Oakland values its Homekey partnership with Danco and Operation Dignity, and the shared goal of bringing the Inn by the Coliseum project to fruition. Upon becoming aware of an outstanding invoice within the last few days, Danco paid the building permit fees immediately." 

The outstanding fee was found following a KTVU investigation about the languishing project that highlighted how The Inn by the Coliseum was supposed to welcome residents back in Fall 2022, but continues to sit empty and construction has yet to begin.

No move-in date was mentioned in the City's statement to KTVU, which means people who have to call the streets home, are still out of luck when it comes to housing.

"This is a real housing solution. It's not temporary. It's not a shelter. It's effectively taking a hotel and converting it [into] an apartment complex. The percentages are up above 90% of people that retain their tenancy for more than a year and often for the rest of their lives," said Russell with BACS. 

And as the project languishes, it means people like Matthew Harris are unable to get the stability and services they need to turn their life around. 

"I just wish I could have done it a little sooner maybe," Harris said. "I could have had more time, I guess, to make something better."