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Cruise ship could house 1,000 Oakland homeless. It’s an exciting idea

PortandTerminal.com, December 12, 2019

OAKLAND, CA – Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan wants to look at using a cruise ship to house up to 1,000 homeless people in the region as a solution to the high cost of living and a shortage of affordable housing.

It’s an exciting idea.

Cruise ships have been used as hotels, both temporary and permanent many times in the past. Why not use them as a way to combat homelessness and housing affordability issues in major cities?

Examples of repurposed cruise ships

Photo of the Queen Mary Cruise ship moored at the Port of Long Beach in California
The Queen Mary cruise ship has been permanently moored at the Port of Long Beach since 1967

The Queen Mary cruise ship has been permanently moored at the Port of Long Beach since 1967 where she serves as a tourist attraction featuring restaurants, a museum and a hotel. The hotel offers “347 original first-class staterooms and suites” according to its website. Certainly, the number of people the Queen Mary could house would be higher if the accommodations were a little less luxurious.

MSC Cruise Ship Europa
MSC Cruises “Europa” is one of two ships that Qatar has chartered for the World Cup 2022 to use as temporary hotel accommodations for tourists attending the games

In the Middle East, Qatar announced that it will be chartering two MSC Cruises during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The plan is to moor the ships in near the stadiums and use them as temporary hotel space to accommodate visitors during the World Cup. It’s a smart solution to fix the lack of permanent hotel space to house the massive influx of tourists expected.

READ: Qatar charters two MSC Cruises ships for FIFA World Cup 2022

In 2018, a non-profit organization in Oregon called Memory Works applied for a grant to investigate the feasibility of re-purposing an old cruise ship to make a shelter on the water.

Ken Capron, the founder of Memory Works reckoned that an old 400-cabin cruise ship could be purchased for under $20 million. Once purchased, the idea would be to have the vessel house social services and have room for immigrant and low-income housing. Like the Queen Mary permanently moored at the Port of Long Beach, Capron’s idea is to permanently moor his cruise ship on the Portland waterfront.

Resistance at the Port of Oakland to the idea

Homeless people living in tents underneath a public rail overpass in Oakland, California
Oakland City Council President Kaplan has said that she believes the three to four thousand homeless sleeping on the streets of Oakland qualifies as a disaster

Kaplan, the Oakland City Council President who initially proposed the idea of housing the homeless on a cruise ship, says cruise ships have been used to house people in coastal areas who were left homeless by natural disasters like hurricanes. She added that she believes the three to four thousand homeless sleeping on the streets of Oakland qualifies as a disaster.

READ: A new ship promises affordable full-time living at sea for peasants like us

A spokesperson at the Port of Oakland though has already come out against Kaplan’s idea use a cruise ship to house homeless people.

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. “

Whether the idea moves forward in Oakland or not, it’s an exciting idea that needs to be seriously explored. With 70% of the earth’s surface covered in water and a growing housing shortage in our major cities, it’s an idea whose time has come.

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