Preventing Homelessness in Oakland

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Kaiser Permanente is partnering with the San Francisco Foundation and a trio of nonprofit agencies to help keep Oakland residents in stable housing. Pictured, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announces the Keep Oakland Housed program at a press conference in Oakland’s City Hall.

It’s hard to keep healthy when you don’t have a safe and stable place to live.

That simple truth is behind Kaiser Permanente’s support of Keep Oakland Housed. The new program announced at a press conference on October 15 aims to prevent low-income Oakland residents from becoming homeless.

The San Francisco Foundation, with a major contribution from Kaiser Permanente, provided a total of $9 million in funding to launch Keep Oakland Housed this month and sustain it through the year 2022. The program is expected to serve as many as 2,000 individuals and families each year.

Partners in Prevention

Keep Oakland Housed will work in partnership with Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City of Oakland and will be implemented by 3 nonprofit agencies — Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, and East Bay Community Law Center. Services will include emergency financial assistance, legal representation in eviction cases, and supportive services to help keep people in stable housing.

“Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to improving the health of our communities,” said Janet Liang, president, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “As an organization that has been part of Oakland for nearly 75 years, we recognize that housing plays a critical role in the health of this community. Homelessness is a complex public health issue and through this partnership we are pleased to support and influence sustainable change.”

Many Are One Paycheck Away

At the press conference announcing the program, Mayor Libby Schaff said a recent study found nearly one-third of Bay Area residents are “just one paycheck away from the risk of eviction.” She added, “That means a surprise medical bill, an unexpected car repair, anything, can potentially put Bay Area residents at risk of losing their housing.”

Kaiser Permanent East Bay senior vice president and area manager Jeff Collins speaks at the Keep Oakland Housed press conference.

Schaff said her staff came up with the Keep Oakland Housed plan for preventing homelessness after scouring the research to determine the most effective ways to keep people in their homes. Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, said the prevention approach makes sense on many levels.

“It is infinitely less expensive, less complicated, and less challenging from a policy point of view, and more humane from a human point of view, to keep people housed rather than try to respond to their needs and their issues and their crises once they become homeless.”

Prevention is a cornerstone of Kaiser Permanente’s approach to individual health, and the organization’s East Bay Vice President Jeff Collins said the strategy works to improve community health as well.

“We know prevention works. That’s why we’re supporting this effort to prevent community members from losing their homes.”

Saying ‘Yes’ to People Who Need Help

Oakland residents who are 18 years or older and are experiencing a housing crisis are eligible for help from the program if they are at or below 50 percent of the Alameda County Area Median Income. For example, a family of 4 could make no more than $58,000.

Jaime Almanza, executive director of Bay Area Community Services, said her organization receives a thousand calls each month from people who are on the brink of losing their housing.

“Keep Oakland Housed means that we can answer these calls and for the first time say, ‘yes,’ and help people the same day they need the help,” she said.

Learn more about the program at KeepOaklandHoused.org.

 

Discussion4 Comments

  1. I think it’s awesome that Kaiser is getting involved with helping the homeless. We need as many agencies, companies, & organizations to help with the homeless issue. The homeless should received help across the board (meaning in all cities) because it’s a struggle & it’s hard trying get back on track without any help. I commend those who is willing to get involved & help out. I, myself would like to participate in helping in anyway I can. I have no money to donate, but I’m willing to provide time (weekends) to help assist in any way possible.

  2. That’s great, however, we still have people making $60,000 a year and still can’t afford to live in Oakland let alone the East Bay. I feel that middle-income people are still being left out once again … There’s still work that needs to be done.

  3. I would like to know if they are going to do something for the Sacramento area too. If not, why is this only in the East Bay area?

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