Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan wants to explore the possibility of using a cruise ship to house up to 1,000 homeless people. The proposal comes during a growing housing crisis and an exploding number of people living on the streets in California.
Kaplan told a council meeting Tuesday that her idea is to bring a ship to the Port of Oakland as a way to quickly deal with the rising cost of living in the Bay Area and a shortage of affordable housing. She likened her plan to an affordable housing version of the floating hotel that is the Queen Mary in Long Beach down the coast in Southern California.
"Cruise ships have been used for emergency housing after natural disasters and for extra housing for things like Olympics," she told the San Francisco Chronicle. In this case people would be asked to pay whatever their personal income allows.
The latest homeless count shows the population in Oakland has climbed 47% to 4,071 over the past two years. That's among the biggest increases for any city in the state over that time period. San Francisco homeless count was 8,011 by comparison.
There are hurdles that will have to be overcome if Kaplan's idea is to be implemented. For example, the Chronicle report notes that the Port of Oakland has concerns, since facilities there are not designed to accommodate cruise ships. There are also worries about sanitation, security, and spread of disease among those onboard.
Kaplan said she plans to make her official proposal in January of next year for that will be “no or low” cost to the city because people would pay for rooms based on their income.