At its meeting of November 16th, City Council authorized the City Manager to execute agreements totaling up to $2,881,047 with Bay Area Community Services (BACS) to provide emergency homeless housing for up to two years and with Alameda County for remodeling and repair services.
These agreements will result in 32 beds of emergency housing for the City’s unhoused as well as support services. During this cold-weather season, Council chose to expedite these agreements to make the sites available sooner.
The housing will be at 2845 Pearl Harbor Road, 2815 Newport Road, and 2700 Lemoore Road, Unit A, properties the City owns. Between $30-45,000 for remodeling will come from the County’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program, the balance coming from the City’s allotment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
Emergency housing services will be open to adults over 18 and residing in the City, with low barriers to entry. The City will coordinate referrals with other service providers and the Alameda County Coordinated Entry System.
Bay Area Community Services
BACS is a local non-profit with experience successfully providing homeless housing in single-family, scattered-site dwellings throughout the Bay Area, particularly in Oakland. Their services will include one meal a day, food for meal preparation, case management and referral, housing navigation, and staff oversight.
Staff will be present overnight at each home to ensure safety. In addition, BACS will dedicate flexible funds to prepare and place residents in permanent housing.
Public and Council Comment
Several public speakers objected to authorizing these agreements before public comment and requested delaying the vote. One Alameda resident said, “I work in affordable housing, and although the majority are well behaved and deserving, even in the permanent housing stage, there are outsized issues with drugs, violence, death, psychiatric breakdowns, and other unneighborly behaviors…I ask that the decision be delayed until proper stakeholder input is received.”
Council Member Herrera-Spencer concurred, saying that she felt the community raised legitimate concerns and should be involved in the conversation before proceeding.
Council Member Daysog pointed out that the contract language addresses evicting emergency housing residents for non-compliance with dwelling rules such as by possessing a weapon, stealing, and other violations. He offered suggestions for improving the agreement and remarked that he trusted the City Manager and staff to listen to the concerns that he and members of the public raised and to strengthen the contract language accordingly.
Vice Mayor Vella remarked that since her first term in office, people have come to Council meetings asking why the City doesn’t use its properties for affordable or emergency housing. She said that now that the City has funding and available units, it is trying to do that.
Mayor Ashcraft said she agreed that an advance community meeting would have been best, but this project has “been a long time coming” and with a housing crisis, the lack of a meeting was not a reason to hold it up. She said that working with BACS, a “trusted and experienced service provider, gives me confidence.” She nonetheless wants the neighbors to have something like an advisory committee and the opportunity to be heard and have concerns addressed.
Final Vote and Community Meeting
In the final vote, the motion to authorize agreements with BACS and the County passed 4-1, with Mayor Ashcraft, Vice Mayor Vella, and Council Members Daysog and Knox-White voting in favor. Council Member Herrera-Spencer voted against it.
Lisa Maxwell, Community Development Director, scheduled a community meeting to share ideas, address concerns, and answer questions about the emergency housing for November 29th, 6 pm at the O’Club, 641 W. Redline Road in Alameda. The public is invited to attend.