Homeless services audit finds Oakland is not prepared to deal with crisis

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – An audit in the city of Oakland found the city is not prepared to deal with the homeless crisis.

The audit found that nearly 79 percent of homeless people were unsheltered because of a lack of permanent affordable housing options and limited emergency and temporary housing options.

“We’re living it and seeing it every day,” Loren Taylor, District 6 Oakland city councilmember, said.

On and off the freeways of Oakland.

“Throughout the district throughout our city, they see how big and vast the problem has become. They see how we have not adequately addressed it,” Taylor said. 

City councilmember Loren Taylor says he is not surprised an audit found the city was not prepared to deal with the problem and lacked an efficient strategy for dealing with the growth of the camps.

“Homeless encampment management is how we support people who are on the street and unhoused but we have to really make sure that we are keeping folks from becoming unhoused and also we have to help those we are unhoused transition into long term permanent housing,” Taylor said. 

The 102-page audit counts that nearly 79 percent of homeless people were unsheltered because of a lack of permanent affordable housing options and limited temporary housing options.

“The residents have clearly stated that this is a huge issue for them. They want to make sure that our unhoused are properly cared for as well as our houses are in use of public parks and that streets are safe,” Courtney Ruby, elected city auditor of Oakland, said. 

It took elected city auditor of Oakland Courtney Ruby a year to complete the report.

“We identified 12.6 million dollars that was unbudgeted so that means the city didn’t have the formal budget for these encampment activities so now the council has this information, the mayor has this information and we’re right in the middle of the budget cycle,” Ruby said.

The count also found that 70 percent of Oakland’s homeless population are African American compared to 24 percent in the general population.

“That is indicative of the need-rooted issues that our society has structural racism that persists in cities across our country, the same disproportional representation exists. It just further emphasizes our need to bring a true equity lens where we are focused on solving these challenges,” Taylor said. 

The audit also looked at police and fire response times to ensure response times to an encampment are appropriate and equitable.

The city auditor will present the homeless services performance in a virtual meeting on Monday.

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