Officials say ‘Keep Oakland Housed’ program is working better than anticipated

The City of Oakland released results on Monday of a new program aimed at preventing people from losing their homes and ending up on the street.

City leaders say the program, called 'Keep Oakland Housed' has worked better than anticipated and is now looking to expand.

Inez Washington says she was almost evicted last year from her apartment near Lake Merritt.  At 77-years-old, she wasn't sure where she was going to go.

"I was real worried," Washington said.

She says her building was sold, she was facing a rent increase and eventually received an eviction notice. 

But through Keep Oakland Housed, Catholic Charities stepped in to help.

It gave her emergency rent money and assigned her a case manager to keep her stabilized and in her apartment.

"This not uncommon. We have in our housing clinics people walking through the doors and the story is the same," said Margaret Peterson of Catholic Charities.

Washington is one of approximately 4,000 people who were in imminent risk of homelessness in the past year and a half who managed to keep a roof over their heads thanks to keep Oakland housed.

"We blew our goal out of the water," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Under the pilot program the city works with three nonprofits including Catholic Charities to help people before they become homeless.

The program will offer one-time emergency financial assistance to help with back rent, provide free legal services to fight evictions and assigns case managers to keep people stabilized..

Oakland says its the first of its kind program in California. It is also expanding to help those sleeping in cars or on couches.

"What you don't want them to become is the habitually, chronically homeless. That's when you have a lot more issues to deal with. It is much cheaper and economically feasible to keep someone from becoming homeless," Peterson.

The program is expected to last another 18 months. City officials hope by then many of the provisions will become state policy.