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California official proposes cruise ship for the homeless

OAKLAND, Ca. – City leaders in Oakland, California are trying to come up with a way to help deal with their homeless crisis.

The city council president has floated the idea of housing some homeless people on a cruise ship.

Some cruise lines may be ready to get on board with the idea.

“Maybe we can have a way to house a thousand homeless people overnight with a cruise ship,” said Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Council president.

Kaplan made almost an off-hand remark about using a cruise ship to house some homeless people. but, word got back to someone in the industry and an idea was born.

“Some folks with cruise ships have reached out to me now as a result of the discussion so now we’re looking at what it would take to make this a reality,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan says cruise ships have been used to house people in coastal areas who were left homeless by natural disasters like hurricanes, and she believes that three to four thousand homeless sleeping on the streets of Oakland qualifies as a disaster.

“If it can be used both by tourists cruising and by other cities as emergency housing, surely our housing emergency is no less," said Kaplan.

Homeless advocates say Kaplan’s heart is in the right place, but the council already passed a measure to use city-owned property for housing, not temporarily, but permanently.

“I think before they start talking about putting a bunch of homeless folks on a boat in the middle of the bay, they should enforce what’s already been passed," said Needa Bee, a homeless advocate.

And the port of Oakland, the primary place to dock a ship, isn’t crazy about the plan either.

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.”