Implementation of Co-Governed Encampments in the City of Oakland – Case Studies and Best Practice Analysis
I worked on this analysis with my Goldman School colleagues, Ana Licona and Leo Steinmetz. I worked mostly in the introduction and case studies of Denver and Seattle, and then we all worked on the recommendations to some degree (although Leo did the heavy lifting). I am very proud of this work and hope it will lead to action on behalf of the people who are impacted by insufficient housing access.
Oakland is facing a growing homelessness crisis. The 2019 Point-In-Time Count and Survey reported over four thousand people experiencing homelessness in Oakland on a given night – up from just over two thousand in 2015. Multiple interventions are required to address this crisis, which include increasing the development of deeply affordable housing units (also referred to as Extremely Low Income (ELI) housing), strengthening tenant protections and economic security,
and expanding the supply of emergency shelter options for people who are currently unhoused. This report aims to provide information and recommendations regarding a potential model for providing shelter to unhoused people in Oakland: co-governed encampments.
The Oakland Permanent Access to Housing (PATH) Framework generally defines a co-governed encampment as an intervention where unsheltered residents come to an agreement about how they will live together in a community setting. This may include selecting site leadership, determining eligibility for participation, developing community expectations for behaviors, holding each other accountable for agreed upon expectations, and maintaining the health and safety of
the community. A nonprofit or community-based organization works alongside residents to support the residents in the design, leadership, and operations of the site. The nonprofit agency is the contracting entity with the local municipality and holds ultimate accountability for ensuring the safety and security of the site.
The key features of a co-governed encampment are resident input in setting encampment policies, resident responsibility for some aspects of program maintenance, and partnership with a contracted agency (referred to in this report as the “contractor” or the “service provider”) to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.