Oakland official proposes using cruise ship to house the homeless

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The leader of the Oakland City Council is looking to the water to help deal with that city's homeless crisis.

Council President Rebecca Kaplan is floating the idea of housing some homeless people on a cruise ship docked in the bay, and some cruise lines may be ready to get on board.

"Maybe we can have a way to house a thousand homeless people overnight with a cruise ship," said Kaplan, who made an almost off-hand remark about using a cruise ship to house some homeless people at a recent hearing. But, word got back to someone in the industry and an idea was born.

"Some folks with cruise ships have reached out to me now as a result of the discussion, so now we're looking at what it would take to make this a reality" Kaplan said.

Kaplan says cruise ships have been used to house people in coastal areas who were left homeless by natural disasters like hurricanes and she believes the three to four thousand homeless sleeping on the streets of Oakland qualifies as a disaster.

"If it can be used both by tourists cruising and other cities as emergency housing, surely our housing emergency is no less," she said.

Homeless advocate Needa Bee says Kaplan's heart is in the right place. But the council already passed a measure to use city-owned property for housing, not temporarily, but permanently.

"I think before they start talking about putting a bunch of homeless folks on a boat in the middle of the bay, they should enforce what's already been passed," Bee said.

The Port of Oakland, the primary place to dock a ship, isn't crazy about the plan either. They released a statement that reads in part: "There isn't the infrastructure to berth a cruise ship. Safety and security issues at our federally regulated maritime facilities would make residential uses untenable."
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