Emergency and transitional housing in Alameda County
EOCP literally came up from the streets, a gritty grassroots support network that evolved into a sustainable community resource. Founded in 1990, we began in a vacant lot on East 14th Street. A group of community activists called the program, “Mission Safe”, and provided street-level services to homeless people. They distributed food bags, motel vouchers, and service referrals. When things got really bad homeless people camped out using cardboard for shelter in the lot.
Shelter for the homeless in East Oakland was minimal, prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Through its destruction of so many low income units, the earthquake added an estimated 2,500 poor to the homeless roster. To address the resulting crisis, the city and the county joined together with Mission Safe in 1990 to establish a homeless shelter that became known as the East Oakland Community Project.
1995 brought serious challenges to EOCP. EOCP’s, Founder and Executive Director, became ill and left the organization. The loss of a visionary founder was devastating. Tragedy was exacerbated by cuts amounting to over $250,000 which drastically reduced the agency’s cash flow. As fundraising was at a stand-still, EOCP’s budget went from approximately $1 million to $579,000 leaving the agency on the verge of bankruptcy. While many expected EOCP to close its doors, the Board of Directors hired a new director to keep its vital services in the community. Over time, EOCP stabilized and increased its budget to its current level of $3 million. At the same time, new programs were added, while others were enhanced to improve the content and quality of services to homeless people.
EOCP has now become a multi-service agency offering emergency and transitional housing to Alameda County’s homeless. We provide dignified temporary housing that homeless individuals, families, young adults, including people living with HIV/AIDS, can call home while rebuilding their lives. EOCP operates four programs:
Since its founding, EOCP’s programs were designed to provide more than a temporary fix for homeless people. A key program element includes individualized support, through case management, which helps clients advocate for themselves and connects them to services to assist them in becoming self-reliant. Residents are supported holistically, addressing their needs for employment, healthcare, housing and education, and assistance for those seeking freedom from drugs.
Two major accomplishments have taken since 2008: 1) the construction of a state of the art “green” building for Crossroads Emergency Housing; and 2) the renovation of the Matilda Cleveland facility.