The city had just transitioned to a Housing First philosophy in hopes of ending homelessness, and, with the Oakland Housing Authority, created a unique program designed to bring different organizations together to serve the needs of highly vulnerable individuals living without a home.
A crucial component of that program was housing. Oakland needed a partner skilled at finding ways to transition people living on the street into permanent housing. It needed a partner with experience administering rental subsidies and one that knew how to place people in situations that would result in long-term housing success.
Abode Services was selected as the primary housing provider after a competitive bid process and immediately got to work.
Abode Services participated in meetings with other partner agencies, including the Oakland Housing Authority, to create a strategy that would result in permanent housing for those who, in many cases, had spent years living on the street. The partners included Volunteers of America, LifeLong Medical Care, First Place for Youth, East Oakland Community Project, St. Mary’s Center and Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services – each agency bringing unique strengths and core competencies to the program.
In addition to people living in encampments, the program focused on housing people who access homeless shelters, seniors without an adequate safety net, and people exiting the criminal justice system.
Working closely with program partners, Abode Services used its past success and relationships to secure apartments throughout the city for participants. Case managers spoke with participants and came up with realistic expectations that resulted in participants moving into homes they could afford.
Since the Oakland PATH Re-Housing Initiative (OPRI) was launched in 2010, more than 200 individuals have been moved from the street into homes. Even more remarkably, 96 percent of the people who entered the program remain housed for at least six months, and 89 percent remain housed after a year. And, more than three-fourths of participants who entered the program with no income now have a regular source of income.
“Abode has earned the loyalty of an extensive network of landlords through good communication and reliability,” a 2013 OPRI Status Report states. “Many landlords actually seek out OPRI placements because they know they can count on the OPRI team to support residents and respond quickly to any housing issues.”