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Port of Oakland Not on Board With Plan to Use Cruise Ship for Homeless

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Port of Oakland (Calif.) officials are protesting a plan by the City Council to bring a cruise ship to dock and serve as housing for up to 1,000 homeless people.

The city has seen a spike in the last two years in the number of homeless, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan said cruise ships have been used effectively over the years to solve short-term housing issues.

“Cruise ships have been used for emergency housing after natural disasters and for extra housing for things like Olympics,” she told the newspaper, noting that the proposal she plans to bring to the full council in January would cost the city little to no money.

The cruise ship would not be bought by Oakland, and residents would have to pay for a room based on income.

But the Port of Oakland has final say on a ship asking to use the port, and right now port spokesman Mike Zampa told the Chronicle he says no.

Having a cruise ship docked at a port used primarily for cargo ships creates all kinds of issues, he said.

“There isn’t the infrastructure to berth a cruise ship,” Zampa said. “Safety and security issues at the federally regulated maritime facilities would make residential uses untenable. How do you hook it up to utilities? You can’t have unauthorized personnel walking back and forth through marine terminals — those are federally regulated facilities, you need a badge to get in and out. There is also a lot of big and heavy equipment rumbling over those facilities all day long.”

Kaplan compared her idea to the Queen Mary cruise ship, which now serves as a floating hotel in Long Beach, Calif.

“It could be like that,” Kaplan said. “But as affordable housing instead of hotel.”

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