OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is proposing a new tax on vacant properties in Oakland to help raise funds to combat homelessness in the city.

Kaplan said that there are many properties across the city, including lots, homes and other buildings that are either empty or not in
use, and often remain so for years.

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“Vacant properties add to the blight to our neighborhoods, attract illegal dumping, and deprive our community of the opportunity to have those vacant properties be used to house people and provide other productive uses,” Kaplan said in a statement.

Kaplan says a special tax on those properties would help increase the housing supply. It would also raise money to create a dedicated funding stream to support homeless solutions, ensuring the city has a funding source that doesn’t have to be fought over each year.

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Funds generated by the measure would also support sanitation services, navigation centers and alternative housing structure solutions, Kaplan said.

Kaplan said that homelessness in Oakland has skyrocketed in recent years, and she hopes the city will follow other cities, such as Washington, D.C., and Vancouver, Canada, in passing a vacant property tax.

The proposal will be heard during the Oakland City Council meeting on March 13. If approved by the city, it would be placed on the November ballot.

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