A village of tiny houses able to give shelter to 79 homeless individuals began construction today on a Lake Merritt-adjacent lot in Oakland, and it should be habitable very quickly.
As Bay City News reports, Oakland is partnering with the nonprofit Housing Consortium of the East Bay (HCEB) and putting up dozens of pre-fab tiny-house shelters made by the company Pallet. The lot at the corner of East 12th Street and Lake Merritt Boulevard has been vacant for many years and has been the site of a homeless encampment for several — and those residents are being relocated on the same lot before being offered space in the new village.
The initial batch of tiny homes will accommodate up to 65 people, and a second group managed by the firm Tiny Logic will house another 14 people and share some of the same amenities.
As the video below explains, Pallet Shelter modules come in two sizes, which accommodate two or four beds apiece. Each has air conditioning, electrical outlets, and storage, as well as locks on the door so individuals can secure their belongings. The shelters are made of durable, lightweight panels that can be swapped out in the event of damage, and the shelters are easily disassembled, moved, and reassembled multiple times.
Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, who's been pushing to convert the site into a temporary shelter village while the housing developer attached to the site continues to delay construction, says that this will be a major upgrade for those living in tents — and it will include "wrap-around support services including healthcare and housing navigation."
"Through this project, we will demonstrate that compassionate, trauma-informed, tiny home communities can effectively create safer and healthier communities, and also help residents successfully transition to stable housing and health," Bas said in a statement.
The residential complex slated for the city-owned property, called the LakeHouse Commons Project, has been mired in delays, activist pushback, and funding issues since it was approved in 2015. As approved, the project would include 252 market-rate units, 18 "workforce" units for middle-income residents, and 91 low-income apartments in a separate building. This project was selected after the city was poised to approve a fully market-rate project on the property, which would have violated the Surplus Lands Act.
Bas told Oaklandside back in February that she disagreed with the city administrator's decision to give the developer another in a series of extensions. "The project has had a number of years to pull together the financing," said Bas. "It’s not acceptable that any public land sits vacant when we could be using it, particularly to house our unsheltered community."