On Thursday, Feb. 10, the City of Alameda announced that it has asked the state of California for a Homekey Grant in the amount of $4.64 million. This money equals 32.4% of the City’s $14,339,954 allocation of American Rescue Plan funding, which the state of California has received from the U.S. Treasury. The project involved in this grant would provide housing for the unhoused on a City-owned property that stretches along the 2300 block of Fifth Street. The parcel is bounded on the east by the College of Alameda. The shape of the property resembles a bottle. For that reason, the City has named the land “The Bottle Parcel.” In addition to the Homekey Grant, the City would tap into the General Fund (“encumber” in the City’s words) in the amount of $1.2 million, bringing the cost to $5.84 million.
The City is calling this project an “interim” measure and its report states that it expects to run the shelter through fiscal year 2027-28 because Homekey requires that the City commit to running the shelter for a minimum five years. However, in its report the City states that it would use the money “to construct a prefabricated modular development that is designed to remain in place for 15 years (20 years, if the City taps into Alameda County “home funds.”
The development would consist of a two-story shelter, a three-story shelter, an administration building, a community building, community gardens, a pet area, and 27 parking spaces. Once completed, the design could house up to 61 individuals and couples in 46 rooms. The City would turn to two organizations to assist in running the project, Dignity Moves and Five Keys.
Formed in response to COVID-19, DignityMoves (https://dignitymoves.org) works to offer supportive housing as a stop-over between living on the street and permanent housing. “When people are in survival mode, worried about their safety or their next meal, it is impossible to think clearly about rebuilding and planning for the future,” the organization states on its website. DignityMoves would make the project at the Bottle Parcel “a place where people can come to take a deep breath and start to stabilize their lives.”
Five Keys (https://www.fivekeyscharter.org) offers programs that provide basic adult educational options for obtaining a high-school diploma or a high-school equivalency certificate. Five Keys would assist in training unhoused people and offering them employment, scholarship and mentorship opportunities. On its website, Five Keys states that its “goal is to increase educational levels for successful re-entry, finding employment and reintegrating into the community.” Five Keys’ role in the Bottle Parcel would involve managing the property to include maintenance, security, and janitorial services. “Five Keys has operated nine transitional housing and permanent supportive housing programs and has developed housing for formerly incarcerated women, located on Treasure Island in San Francisco,” Lauren Do states on Blogging Bayport (https://laurendo.wordpress.com/2021/11/16/over-there/).
Building a site to help the unhoused is part of the City’s five-year project with a plan called ‘The Road Home.’ (PDF file – https://www.alamedaca.gov/) The City Council passed this plan last October. “The Road Home” recommends assessing and using available public and private land — like the Bottle Parcel — to place those who are unhoused in temporary housing and assist them in finding property in permanent housing. The City would also accomplish this goal by expanding outreach and supportive services to unsheltered households as well.
“The services that [the Community Development Department (CDD)] is providing to our unhoused community members has expanded greatly over the last few years,” the staff report states. As part of The Bottle Parcel project, the CDD must add staff to support its development and operation. This “will require the addition of at least one staff member at a manager level.” CDD has requested that the City hire an additional full time development manager to handle the Bottle Parcel and the ancillary projects. The salary and benefits of this manager would cost the City some $180,000 annually.
Dennis Evanosky is the Editor of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected].