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Oakland Mayor Schaaf Urges Residents To Rent Rooms To Homeless

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Mayor Libby Schaaf raised a few eyebrows during her State of the City address when she encouraged Oakland residents to rent out extra bedrooms and spare units to a homeless person.

"People are getting creative and this one way people are trying to make a dent to end homelessness," says Daniel Cooperman, director of Bay Area Community Services.

For the past 4 years BACS has been running a program where landlords are able to volunteer space for a person transitioning out of homelessness.

The center pays the landlord anywhere from $300 to $1,200 a month in rent, then helps the formerly homeless person get the social services needed to deal with mental health or substance abuse issues.

"It's one small piece of the puzzle. It might be a small piece, but we need a hundred small pieces to end homelessness," says Cooperman.

So far, there are almost 150 landlords participating in the program and BACS directors say almost 90 percent of the homeless who take advantage of the temporary housing are able to get a job and move into their own place within 2 years.

But some people in Oakland aren't sold on the plan.

"I'm a working artist in the area and I don't have the means to take in anyone else," says Daniel Tanenbaum. "It's hard enough to make it myself here in the Bay Area, let alone other human beings."

Melanie Eaton agrees.

"Although I do believe in community coming together to help each other, but we're coming together with our tax dollars and I'm not sure they're doing what needs to be done."

"I think it's a big question to ask of somebody, but I don't think it's a bad thing," says Troy Stephens. "I think it's generally positive."

Mayor Schaaf said the homeless issue is a very complex one and there is no 'one size fits all' solution. But she hopes residents will do everything they can to help.

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