Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 16, 2007

Navy Surplus in Store

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:59 am

Last month, the Alameda Journal reported on the news about the Navy’s intention to declare a few parcels of former Coast Guard housing as surplus property.   The article went on to mention that one of the possible uses could be housing for homeless individuals and families.  The parcel in question is the former North Village Housing and according to an off-agenda report to the City Council, once the Navy declares the property as surplus, a screening process will begin to figure out what to do with the property.  

The history of this screening process is quite interesting and begins with the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act passed in 1987, of which Title V of that act required that the federal government identify and make available all surplus property to state and local governments as well as non-profit agencies to assist homeless individuals and families.   Of course, this Act preceded the many miltary base closures and realignments in the late 80s, early 90s and so a new piece of legislation was passed to better refine the process.   This new legislation: the Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act of 1994, also known as “The Redevelopment Act” (p. 4 on the reader) was designed to:

…accommodate the impacted communities’ multiple interests in base reuse and to meet the national priority to assist homeless individuals and families. The law exempted BRAC Commission installations from the provisions of Title V of the McKinney Act and substituted a community-based process wherein representatives of the homeless and other community groups participate in local reuse planning.

The Redevelopment Act places responsibility for base reuse planning in the hands of a Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA), which represents all the local jurisdictions affected by a closing or realigning installation. The LRA is responsible for developing a reuse plan that appropriately balances the needs of the various communities for economic redevelopment, other development, and homeless assistance. HUD then reviews the plan to determine its compliance with the statute.

This new Redevelopment Act only covers bases that were closed or realigned in 1995, of which Alameda Point is one. 

In Alameda’s case the LRA is the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA).  While I know that some of my own neighbors are particularly concerned with this news, it appears that the public process outlined by the Redevelopment Act will give immediate neighbors and the community at large ample opportunity to gather information and give input.  While the Journal article specifically focused on uses for homeless individuals and families, it is noteable to mention that when the process begins with the annoucement from the Navy that they have declaredthat land as surplus, many other entities have the opportunity to submit “applications” once the ARRA advertises the availability of the land.   An alternate use is a “public benefit conveyance” (p. 13 on the reader) which requires sponsorship from a government agency:

…Public benefit conveyance categories include parks and recreation, historic monuments, airports, health, education, correctional facilities, highways, self-help housing and wildlife conservation. Under the public benefit programs, eligible entities must apply to a sponsoring Federal agency. For example, if a city wanted to obtain surplus Federal property for use as a college, it would make an application to the Department of Education.

Of course, the main point of the Redevelopment Act is to help fill any gaps that may exist in a jurisdiction’s continuum of care.  Without having reviewed Alameda’s Consolidated Plan (required by HUD from any locality receiving Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)) I wouldn’t know for sure if there are any gaps in Alameda’s Continuum.   But having quickly reviewing the proposed CDBG program summary for 2007 – 08 and seeing what has and will continue to be funded, Alameda seems to have a pretty complete continuum of care as defined by HUD, that is (1) intake/assessment, (2) emergency shelter [Midway Shelter for women and children], (3) transitional housing with supportive services [Alameda Point Collaborative (APC)], and (4) Permanent housing and permanent supportive housing [APC].  Of course there are varying layers within the categories like some transitional housing prorams have a three-month program and then another stage before the client reaches the permanent housing stage, etc…  Of course, someone more intimately familiar with Alameda’s continuum could provide more insight.

As an aside, I know the CDBG funds a lot of really neat programs in Alameda such as the Housing Rehabilitation and Rental Rehabilitation (around 4:12 on the video) programs.  The Housing Rehabilitation provides funding for folks who may not have the additional funds to pay for some home repairs such as a leaking roof or need for a new water heater, of course you must income qualify for the program.   The Rental Rehabilitation program is similar to the Housing Rehabilitation program but the income requirements are based on that of the tenants, but I digress.

So here is my only teensy problem if there is to be more housing for homeless families and/or individuals.  In general, I am supportive of efforts to include more housing for this vulnerable population, but I hate to see it all concentrated in one area.  That would be my only concern.  In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have homelessness, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon, but in an equitable world, services for homeless populations would be distributed throughout a community and not concentrated in one area.  

With that said though, if it is to be used for housing Alameda’s homeless individuals and families, better there than nowhere.   I would however, like to see the housing be used to help really vulnerable populations that often go overlooked when planning for social services.   And that is emancipated foster youth.  In general, programs for foster youth are underfunded and inadequate.   With the state of California pretty much wiping their hands of foster youth once they hit age 18, many of these kids end up homeless.   Often through no fault of their own, these youth are taken out of their homes because of abuse, neglect, or any combination of problems.   Rather than create opportunities for these children to thrive, our government instead chooses to nickle and dime support amounts for these kids and then basically kick them to the curb at age 18 without adequate transition from child to adult.  Although recently there have been small strides made for this population.  In addition to signing the bill creating the BAWETA, the Governor also signed several bills that immediately address the needs of foster kids, but I digress again.

Anyway, according to the Guidebook referenced several times above on this military conversion process, there will be ample opportunity for the public to weigh in on what the future use for the North Village Housing will be.   The best thing to do if you are concerned is to stay informed as much as possible, I know I will be watching and participating in future meetings on this topic.  

The next step after the Navy announces the surplus status will be for the City to conduct a “Needs Assessment” of sorts (not like the one done by the SSHRB), but might already be covered through the Consolidated plan with minor tweaking.  And then they will begin to solicit proposals of interest from qualifying organizations through newspaper announcement and direct solicitations to known organizations.  



  1. *So here is my only teensy problem if there is to be more housing for homeless families and/or individuals. In general, I am supportive of efforts to include more housing for this vulnerable population, but I hate to see it all concentrated in one area. That would be my only concern. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have homelessness, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon, but in an equitable world, services for homeless populations would be distributed throughout a community and not concentrated in one area.*

    Let’s cut to the chase.

    Aside from all the ink supporting the concept of housing the homeless, then hoping that a “public benefit conveyance” will come to the rescue or praying that Alameda has a, “complete continuum of care” already in place, or that Alameda will find no “needs” in its “Needs Assessment”, the fact of the matter is North Village Housing will soon be Bayport’s new poor neighbors.

    The “teensy problem” of area concentration of a vulnerable population may be a problem for Bayport denizens but why is it a problem for the city population as a whole or for the vulnerable population in question? Ancillary issues aside, simple economy of logistics would seem to indicate that resources for a vulnerable group are more easily distributed if the need group is concentrated than if spread throughout the city.

    Also, who said anything about this new/old housing being restricted to “Alameda” homeless individuals and families?

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 16, 2007 @ 9:55 am

  2. Jack, you would be completely correct that it would be an economy of scale to locate the homeless population around services, unfortunately there are no services out at Alameda Point and the location in question. There are no grocery stores, doctors, laundromats, pharmacies, etc… There are few employers out at the Point, the only services available are those provided by the supportive services of the non-profit agency the housing would be provided by.

    Most residents would probably not have access to private vehicles, and bus services is infrequent at best.

    So would yet another population be served by being isolated into the hinterlands of Alameda? Let’s not kid ourselves that it is in their best interests to be housed far away from services that meet basic necessities. While it may be “beneficial” to the larger community of Alameda as a whole to not have to worry about a new supportive housing development in their “backyard” it is not in the best interest of anyone who is already struggling to make ends meet to be further isolated.

    Personally, I’d rather see homeless housing than take my chances with a public benefit conveyance which could be a crapshoot that would not be in anyone’s interest: jail, detention facility, summer house for George W…

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 16, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  3. Services availability or not, the argument that any population could be isolated into the hinterlands of Alameda is so funny I have to laugh thinking about it. That would be an new and interesting argument. I can imagine the astonishment on the faces of homeless advocates on hearing that Alameda would love to host their families but, darn it, our North Housing is so isolated the families would be better off homeless.

    I think you’ll have your rather’s. Welcome to the west end.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 16, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  4. I guess you missed the part of my original post that said:

    With that said though, if it is to be used for housing Alameda’s homeless individuals and families, better there than nowhere.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 16, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  5. No I didn’t miss it. I guess you missed my not rhetorical question in # 1.

    “Also, who said anything about this new/old housing being restricted to “Alameda” homeless individuals and families?”

    Or are we being townist?

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 16, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  6. One statement that has always stuck with me even after I left the non-profit field is: “Homelessness doesn’t recognize city borders,” which is why it is important to have each city and each county work together to help solve the problem of homelessness. So is it a matter of being “townist” when I say “Alameda’s homeless individuals and families,” not at all, it’s a recognition of the fact that Alameda does have its share of homeless families and individuals. That while some may come from outside the borders of Alameda, there are families and indviduals that may not be as visible as the chronically homeless that one sees on the streets of San Francisco or under the overpasses of Oakland, but that they exist.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 16, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  7. I suspect the non-profit field has methods ordinary people don’t have in order to recognize whether or not each town has its fair share of whatever the particular non-profit is advocating.

    Suffice to say, I’d wager once North Village Housing is teaming with a vibrant advocacy population it will become a permanent fixture of the advocates. Doesn’t matter whether the population is homeless, detention facility, least tern, jail or home for x-presidents it will take more than the will of the citizens of Alameda to change the occupancy or the use of the property.

    The site is not occupied yet. It should be bulldozed down just like East Housing was. Maybe another interesting blog could arise from the dust.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 16, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  8. Jack,

    I think Lauren’s point about the isolation of the location makes perfect sense in terms of these populations of people not typically having a Lexus SUV , or even a Civic, to jump into and jaunt off to the store. What’s so funny about that again? (also rhetorical).

    Until there is retail development on the base I think the existing Collaborative and all the leased residential at the base are somewhat isolated. Marina Village isn’t very that far, but Atlantic is hardly a scenic bike ride and on a day like today walking there and back from the base or the North Village would not be inviting.

    Since Alameda Landing appears not to be progressing toward real mixed use, it’s questionable if it will bring needed services closer to these communities either.

    Comment by Mark I — October 17, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  9. Mark I,

    I think Lauren’s point about the isolation of North Housing makes perfect sense. What’s funny about it is the thought that “hinterland isolation” would dull the gleam in the eye of the homeless non-profit beholder at the thought of all that housing just there for the taking.

    The “services” I was speaking about are the services Lauren alluded to in her # 2 above:”…the only services available are those provided by the supportive services of the non-profit agency the housing would be provided by.” I doubt that difficulty in getting groceries or clean clothes would be a deal breaker from an advocate’s point of view.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 17, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  10. Why would services be harder to get at the USCG housing than at Alameda Point Collaborative?

    I am sure everyone posting here knows that there are plans for more development in that area including a new food store at the point and opening roadways from near the USCG housing to have greater ease in getting to other areas like the existing shopping center. Of course the problem of how to deal with traffic of the development at the Landing has been left unresolved…but Lauren points out that the homeless that USCG housing could help may have fewer cars.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 17, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

  11. Re # 10

    Of course the “lack of services” is a dance. Bayport no more wants North Housing to become a homeless enclave than become a site for a George W summer home, though I’d bet if they were polled (anonymously) they’d prefer the latter.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 17, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  12. I have one question. East Housing was so sub-standard that it would not have been safe for its considered use. The Navy has one set of building standards and the rest of our country has another set of building standards. Is the USCG north housing in the same shape that the old East Housing was in.? If so then it might not be a very good place to have people live. Aside from the fact that it totally separates its occupants from the rest of the city. John P.

    Comment by john piziali — October 17, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

  13. Thanks for your input John Pizali, former Alameda Planning Board member and west end resident. It confirms what Jack is saying. I am sure the homeless would love to continue to fight over who gets a dry spot of dirt under the overpass than live in housing which is not up to your standards, even if it is good enough for our servicemen and women and their families.
    I have no doubt that your comment is that which will be used to again tear down affordable housing. Was it you who used these words to have East Housing demolished? Bless you and your open heart.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 17, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  14. While I mean the above it is also important to realize that most of the “homeless” are not the stereotypical homeless inebriates seen begging on the corners. The majority are still shuffling thru friends, sleeping on floors and couches ‘until the next check’. There are students at Berkeley unified and I bet at Alameda schools who may be living in a car with one of their parents. Many homeless are employed, at least part-time, others are in recovery homes or wanting a more stable base to get their families back together. Obviously this portion of our population is less fortunate, and often has a variety of issues to overcome and they need help. It is sad that a temporary problem can have lifelong implications if assistance is not available. Since some like JKW argue that we need more development to meet housing supply to maintain affordability, than ONLY affordable housing should be built until the BA’s transportation and pollution problems are resolved.

    I am sure there are groups similar to Habitat for Humanity that would help rehab needed repairs to bring the USCG homes back to some set of Fed housing standards, if Alameda truthfully wants to help. My guess is that the political powers that be will take Piziali’s position. I think it is shameful to waste that housing. I was shocked to learn the other night that the 39 homes for Veterans will “be touched” by $25 million dollars of construction costs.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 17, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  15. D.K. What I said is true the military does not put our service men and women in housing that is built to the same standards that the rest of us live in. So I suppose that you feel it is good enough for them, but not us. Also while we are at it do you feel it is a good idea to place all people who fall below the poverty line in one area and isolate them from the rest of the city.

    I know from your point of view living out on Bay Farm where there are no public housing at all you can do a lot of high minded talking. The West End of Alameda has a high concentration of lower income people living in it. This happens to be where I have chosen to live my entire life, and I love it here. I want what is best for them and for me. I would agree with you that if Habitat or some other group could bring that housing up to our standards that would satisfy me. By standards I mean our current building and safety codes.
    Yes it was me who fought very hard to have Bayport built in the West End, you would be surprised at how many of us who live here would like to see the West End be treated like the rest of Alameda. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard East Enders say that they would never allow affordable housing at their end of town. By the way why didn’t you purchase in the West End when you came to Alameda. John P.

    Comment by john piziali — October 18, 2007 @ 7:12 am

  16. #10 your point about access for the Collaborative is a point I almost made myself. Eventually development at the point will address this , but North Housing is really tucked off in the corner. You hardly even see it on the way to other destinations.

    Comment by Mark I — October 18, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  17. For whatver reason I have never met a “homeless” person in Alameda. So, Im not sure what constitutes homeless here. I lived in DT LA for a number of years and did some work for Skid Row residents. The one thing I learned there was that as long as these people were living amongst other people exactly like them i.e alcoholics, drug addicts, mentally ill, they had no incentive to try and do anything to improve their situation, and I’m not talking about getting a job, but even taking the time to take advantage of services offered to them. They felt that if their life was status quo, well then there was no need to change.

    That being said, I am unaware if the conditions for the homeless in Alameda are similar, but if so then I would be against creating one big housing complex and putting these people even more at risk. People seem to think that sleeping in your car, or worse, sleeping on a lonely park becnh is hitting rock bottom, but i would argue that sleeping next to 4 guys shooting heroine at 5 am is a tad more depressing.

    Its kind of hard to believe, but sometimes people need someone to talk to, rehabilitation, etc. more so than a roof over their heads.

    It really all depends on who they’re trying to help and if they are actually trying to HELP or just hide and survey the problem.

    Comment by MarkD — October 18, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  18. […] Blogmistress Do already covered a lot of the issues on this one here. […]

    Pingback by High Hopes « Stop, Drop and Roll — November 9, 2007 @ 3:08 am

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