California housing crisis podcast: Homeless population won’t decrease in next five years, Oakland mayor says

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at an assembly at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif., in 2018.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Big cities up and down California saw significant growth in their homeless populations over the last two years. Oakland reported a 47% increase to more than 4,000 residents, making it the city with the largest per capita homeless population in the state. And Mayor Libby Schaaf doesn’t see the numbers going down anytime soon.

“We have so much work to do,” Schaaf said in a live episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis” podcast last month. “Our limitations on the use and value of private property is a huge driver of this. I don’t think that’s going to change that much in five years. I guess I could be happy if we stabilize or stopped. I want to be hopeful, but I also want to be realistic. This is a very hairy problem.”

Schaaf was one of three guests who spoke about solutions to the state’s housing problems at the event at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco.


Margot Kushel, director of the UC San Francisco Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, discussed the underlying causes of homelessness and strategies to help people into housing. Candice Gonzalez, a Silicon Valley developer attempting to build 2,400 homes and an office park in Cupertino, weighed in on state efforts to push cities to allow more building.

Schaaf, Kushel and Gonzalez also discussed the Trump administration’s recent efforts to spotlight the state’s homelessness problems and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s promise to substantially boost homebuilding.

More than 100 people attended the event, which was the first live episode of the “Gimme Shelter” podcast. You can watch video of the event below.

Gimme Shelter,” a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CALmatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play and Overcast.