Oakland, Emeryville mayors collaborate against homelessness

Two cities in Alameda County are tackling homelessness together for the first time. The mayors are combining their resources to try to help get homeless families off the streets.

In a joint interview with KTVU, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Emeryville Mayor John Bauters outlined the first chapter of their collaborative effort to end homelessness in Alameda County. 

“The largest city in the county and the smallest city in the county are able to find a way to work on a problem together of significant regional magnitude,” said Mayor Bauters.

Alameda County estimates it has more than 3,800 unsheltered people. 1,900 are in Oakland, but only 29 are in Emeryville.

There’s a homeless encampment behind the Home Depot in Emeryville, that sits along the border of both cities. The location doesn't matter. To these mayors, what’s important is pulling their resources together to help all homeless residents in the Bay Area. 

“How many more meetings can we have about this? People are getting less and less healthy every night that they are on the streets. We've got to try things to help improve this situation,” said Mayor Schaaf. 

That encampment on the city line is first on their to-do list.

Mayor Schaaf says Oakland plans to lease land from Caltrans to put up another tuff shed community to help house some homeless there.

Meanwhile Mayor Bauters is donating 11 modular homes Emeryville owns to help house homeless families in Oakland.

“He has some portable units that will be fantastic for unsheltered families, but Oakland has a lot more land so when we put our resources together we can get a lot more done,” said Schaaf. 

The units can accommodate 75 people at a time and have bathrooms and kitchens and must be connected to sewer and electricity sources that Oakland plans to pay for.

It’s still in the early planning stages, so a location hasn't been decided just yet.

The city of Emeryville is also contributing about $72,000 of state funding it received to this project. It’s all part of this life-long commitment to solving a regional crisis, together.

“She understands the balance between representing your city and doing right by your city and also doing right by people regardless of where they live and that's what we’re trying to accomplish here."

But not all agree tuff sheds are the answer. %INLINE% %INLINE%

"There aren’t enough Tuff Sheds for the number of unhoused. People don’t want to go into those open air jails," activist and Schaaf's former political opponent Cat Brooks said. Brooks added that shuffling people from place to place is inhumane. 

She noted The Housing and Dignity Village at Edes and Elmhurst in East Oakland, open to unhoused women and children, has a new eviction date this Wednesday following an overturned restraining order. Brooks is involved with organizing eviction resistance events for the homeless that offer support, moving assistance and food for those who are being asked to vacate the premises.   

KTVU's Andre Torrez contributed to this report