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Coronavirus Update: Oakland Launches 'Operation HomeBase' To Provide Trailers For Homeless, Medically-Vulnerable

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Oakland has launched a program to provide trailers and services for homeless and medically vulnerable people so they can pre-emptively isolate to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and city officials on Tuesday unveiled Operation HomeBase during a press conference at the site where 67 trailers have been set up in an overflow parking lot next to the Oakland Coliseum complex.

The trailers have water and sewer connections and the program includes three meals a day along with case management to search for permanent housing, jobs and other social services, organizers said.

Schaaf said roughly 130 people would be moving into the the trailers starting on Wednesday, selected from a long waiting list of eligible individuals. Preference has been given to applicants from East Oakland to keep them close to their support systems, Schaaf said.

The new trailers were among 91 trailers donated by the State of California to the City of Oakland. Schaaf said Operation HomeBase would use 67 trailers while the other 24 trailers were provided to the cities of Alameda, Berkeley, and Hayward, which requested them for their homeless residents.

"Our unsheltered residents are among the most vulnerable in our community. Many have underlying health conditions exacerbated by living outside on our streets. This intervention is a quick and compassionate step to slow the spread of COVID-19 and upgrade the living conditions of our unsheltered neighbors," said Schaaf in a prepared statement.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 aren't eligible for the program but instead are put in isolation elsewhere.

Schaaf said the goal is to eventually place people who are at the trailer site into permanent supportive housing but she said there's no time limit on staying there and "we're not putting anybody out on the streets during this crisis."

She said the city plans to keep using the trailers for homeless people even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

"We recognize that giving respite to 130 people is not the answer to our homeless problem but this is a tremendous step forward to giving people wonderful, safe and healthy places to live and not just during this pandemic," said Schaaf.

Schaaf said another 15 trailers for vulnerable homeless people will be set up in West Oakland in the near future.

The name, Operation HomeBase, is a nod to the name of the site at 633 Hegenberger Road. The HomeBase parking lot was once the location for a now-defunct HomeBase home improvement warehouse store as well as the former Oakland International Trade Center, which later was the site for numerous raves and underground parties in the late 90s. The building burned down in 2005.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.



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