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Official: Cruise ship could house 1,000 Oakland homeless

OAKLAND, Calif. — A San Francisco Bay Area city official wants to explore the possibility of using a cruise ship to house up to 1,000 homeless people amid a high cost of living and a shortage of housing.

Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan told a council meeting Tuesday that the ship would be brought to the Port of Oakland, but port officials said Wednesday the move would be “untenable."

“We respect President Kaplan's desire to address homelessness but Port of Oakland docks are designed to work cargo ships, there isn't the infrastructure to berth a cruise ship,” port spokesman Mike Zampa said.

The port is among the 10 busiest in the nation and safety and security issues in the federally regulated facilities “would make residential uses untenable,” Zampa said.

Kaplan didn't immediately return a request for further comment from The Associated Press.

Kaplan said she has been contacted by cruise ship companies about providing a ship for emergency housing, and that the companies were reaching out to the Port of Oakland about what options exist to park a ship at the port, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She didn''t provide further details on those companies.

Kaplan said she plans to present a proposal to the council in January that will be “no or low” cost to the city because residents of the cruise ship would pay for rooms based on their income. The city would not buy the cruise ship.

Homelessness has spiked in Oakland in the past two years with the number of unsheltered people increasing from 1,900 to more than 3,000 people.

“It could be a great way to house a lot of people quickly,” Kaplan told The Chronicle. “Cruise ships have been used for emergency housing after natural disasters and for extra housing for things like Olympics.”

Kaplan compared her vision for an Oakland cruise ship to something like the Queen Mary in Long Beach in Southern California. The 1936 ocean liner is now a floating hotel with 347 rooms. A room with two twin beds rents for $141 a night and $146 a night for a full-size bed.

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

The Associated Press