The city council of Oakland voted on Tuesday to move forward with the purchase of a 70 unit building to be used to house the homeless. The 9,500 square foot building is located at 641 W Grand Avenue and will cost the city $7 million to buy. The building will be used to house as many as 140 individuals experiencing homelessness in the city.
The city of Oakland set aside $10 million a year ago to facilitate the purchase of an additional building to supplement the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center that houses both men and women that are included among Oakland’s homeless population. The center is currently filled to capacity.
The building on Grand Avenue was built in 1906 and is currently in the process of being fully rehabilitated. The building is expected to be ready for use by the city once purchased.
A lawsuit filed by the Attorney’s Office in Oakland sought to shut down the building due to allegedly being a “center for drug sales” and lacking the desired safety to support habitation. The building was said to be missing both fire alarms and extinguishers, have exposed wiring throughout the property, and have infestations of both mold and cockroaches.
The building was purchased by Uptown Residencies LLC after being declared as unsafe for human habitation. The 2015 purchase was at a price tag of $2.5 million. Uptown Residencies began renovations in the building a year ago and was initially seeking to sell the finished building for $9.7 million. The city of Oakland has estimated the value of the building to be a more modest $6.8 million.
A survey completed in 2017 reported that 2,761 were residing in the city of Oakland and the latest building purchase is another in a line of steps taken by the city to alleviate the homeless crisis it faces.
The city has toyed with the idea of providing services to the homeless at the many camps that have sprung up throughout the city and have used Tuff Sheds, which is located at the intersection of 6th and Castro Streets in December to provide shelter for homeless individuals.
The city has also identified the site of its next shelter for the homeless. Construction began a month ago on a 62-unit building that will be used to provide housing for veterans that are homeless. The shelter is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.