Oakland considers buying $14 million hotel for homeless housing

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of Oakland is looking for an existing hotel to relieve its growing homeless population. Under a plan, the city would commit $14 million to turn a hotel into transitional housing for the homeless.

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Oakland business owner Sean Scislowski passes homeless people in Oakland every day. "Sometimes I get here in the morning, I hear that somebody got hit by a car -- somebody overdosed and you kind of become part of their community and we are all one community."

It is a community with a serious housing crisis given Oakland's growing homeless population. City leaders are committing $14 million to purchase a hotel to provide transitional housing for the homeless.

"Some of them may have a single room," said Oakland's Director of Housing Michele Byrd. "Some of them may be efficiencies. Some hotels have rooms with bathrooms or share a bathroom."

Oakland is already receiving calls from hotel owners and realtors with potential properties.

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The transitional center would include job placement and drug rehabilitation programs.

"There's enough room -- shelter for everyone," Scislowski told ABC7 News. "And everyone deserves it and we will do what we can to help out."

An infrastructure bond was already approved by Oakland taxpayers in Nov. The long-term goal includes using existing units, acquiring vacant lots and even new construction.

"We know that in Oakland and Alameda County, we are going through a housing crisis," said Byrd. "And individuals are willing to pay more on their taxes to help with that crisis."

The city council still has a final session to approve selling the bonds -- then purchasing an existing hotel could happen in the next several months in Oakland.

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