Human Services

FY 2021-23 Adopted Policy Budget

Who we are and what we do

Business Goals

  • Provide high quality, effective programs for children, youth, families, seniors and other adults through direct services, grant making, and close collaboration and coordination with other public and community-based agencies.

  • Develop new resources and leverage existing resources to maintain and expand programs that promote social and racial equity for Oakland residents.

  • Identify, plan and recommend proactive policy and programmatic responses to community needs and social issues that impact the health and well-being of Oakland residents.

  • Create opportunities for community engagement and education through volunteerism and involvement with Boards, Commissions and community groups.

  • Sustain the Department’s efficient fiscal and program operations and improve and enhance service accountability through expanded performance monitoring, evaluation and continuous quality improvement, evaluation and continuous quality improvement.

  • Foster staff development and acknowledgement.



Administration provides overall management and administration and fiscal support to all Human Services Department (HSD) Divisions. Administration includes liaison with elected official, legislative advocacy, fund development, intergovernmental relations, supporting multi-agency initiatives, policy development, and departmental communications, human resources and payroll support. Fiscal management includes budgeting, audits, grants monitoring and accounting. Administration also manages a Substance Abuse and Mental Health five-year initiative to create community resilience, support the department’s transformation into a trauma informed system of care, and program policy and services that are trauma informed and crafted to speak to and address racial equity.

Aging & Adult Services

Provide a comprehensive and coordinated network of support services, information and referrals, and activities for seniors and persons with disabilities. Programs include: The Multi-Purpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) which supports frail seniors and persons with disabilities to remain independent; Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent (SC/FG) Programs which offer volunteer opportunities for seniors to work with frail-elderly and at-risk children; and the ASSETS program which provides low-income seniors with employment training services and job placement. Oakland Paratransit for the Elderly and Disabled (OPED) provides paratransit services which augment the County’s paratransit program. OPED is funded by Alameda County Measure B Transportation Initiative and is augmented by Measure BB. Additionally, City-sponsored Senior Centers offer culturally appropriate and accessible social, nutrition, education and wellness programming for seniors throughout the City. Senior Centers have extended their reach to members by offering online and televised classes to create Senior Centers Without Walls. Technology education, equipment lending, and a contactless registration system are addressing evolving senior needs for communication and other resources. Rental of City-owned senior facilities generate revenue to support senior activities. The Mayor’s Commission on Aging provides advocacy and policy direction on senior issues and promotes Oakland as an Age Friendly City under the World Health Organization’s international initiative.

Community Housing Services

Providing critical services for Oakland’s most vulnerable individuals and families including those who are very low income, experiencing homelessness, are HIV/ AIDS positive and/or food insecure. Community Housing Services provides a range of housing support including shelter, transitional housing, service enriched interim housing models, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing. Services also include interventions for individuals living on the streets through emergency health and hygiene interventions, interim shelter solutions, outreach, case management and housing navigation. The updated Permanent Access To Housing (PATH) Plan provides guiding principles to support the balanced investments in the full spectrum of homeless services, from basic harm reduction to permanent supportive housing.

This work includes recent emergency allocations from the State of California (Homeless Emergency Aid Program or HEAP) to address the crisis of unsheltered neighbors. The Division is also the lead for Oakland in the County’s Coordinated Entry System of Housing Resource Centers for those who are unhoused. Through its brown bag food program, low-income individuals in all parts of Oakland are provided with essential supplemental meals. The Division also supports the Mayor’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

Alameda County-Oakland Community Action Partnership

Alameda County-Oakland Community Action Partnership (AC-OCAP) manages the City’s and Alameda County’s Community Services Block Grant funds which are dedicated to ending poverty within the City of Oakland and throughout Alameda County. AC-OCAP’s mission is to improve the community by creating pathways that lead to economic empowerment and prosperity. Initiatives include hunger relief, employment strategies, housing advocacy, low-income banking efforts, and free tax preparation and promotion of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Children & Youth Services

The Oakland Fund for Children & Youth (OFCY) fosters the development of young people ages 0 to 20 by providing grant funds for services and programs that improve outcomes for children and youth. The Planning and Oversight Committee provides policy recommendations to the City Council and oversees strategic planning, evaluation and grant-making through a competitive proposal process. A City Charter amendment (1996 Measure K – Kids First! voter initiative) established OFCY as a mandated set aside of funds, later amended by Measures OO and D, resulting in a 3% set aside of the City’s unrestricted general fund revenues for children's programs. Legislation requires completion of an OFCY Strategic Plan every four years and a comprehensive evaluation of OFCY annually. Programs strategies include comprehensive afterschool, youth transitions, and early childhood development. The Division also manages the Oakland Youth Commission which gives youth the opportunity to build leadership skills and participate in civic activities. The Summer Food Service program delivers free, healthy nutritious lunches to low-income school-aged children in Oakland neighborhoods and community sites including libraries and recreation centers during the summer months. The Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) Distribution Tax program and its Advisory Board is also supported by this Division. SSB includes public health messaging, community grants, and investments in healthy living and community nutrition to prevent or reduce the adverse health outcomes of the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.

Early Childhood & Family Services

The City of Oakland Head Start Program provides care and education, comprehensive support, and family services to over 1,006 low-income families. Children who are 0-5 years of age can attend the program either at centers or in their own home. Head Start also serves pregnant mothers and prioritizes young, first time mothers and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) women. We partner with parents to develop learning and growth plans for each child to ensure healthy development and to prepare them for success in Pre-K and Kindergarten. The comprehensive services we provide support the growth and development of children and pregnant mothers by addressing developmental learning, mental health and disabilities, physical health, nutrition and family needs.

The program provides directs services to families at thirteen centers located in the most underserved areas of Oakland. We also offer virtual learning and homebased programs. In addition to direct services, we manage grants to three partner organizations: Brighter Beginnings, St Vincent’s Day Home, and Laney Community College and one delegate agency, The Unity Council, to serve additional families across Oakland. We ensure that our partners and delegate agency meet quality standards for service delivery and the federal requirements of Head Start and City of Oakland priorities.

Head Start is a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) program. The HHS Poverty Guidelines determine income eligibility for participation in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Unhoused foster children and families who receive TANF (temporary assistance to needy families) funds are automatically eligible.

The City of Oakland program is governed by a Policy Council, comprised of parents as well as an Advisory Board, made up of Oakland leaders focused on Early Childhood Development, with decision making authority that contributes to policy and program guidelines and ensures the implementation and achievement of federal requirements.



External Services

Food Distribution Programs

HSD has food distribution programs that assist seniors, people experiencing homelessness, low-income residents experiencing food insecurity, low-income families, and youth. The largest program is the Summer Food Service Program where HSD delivers summer lunches to 60+ community sites including OPRYD and OPL.

Senior Centers

Four senior centers, located throughout the City of Oakland, provides social, recreational, nutritional and educational activities to older adults in our community.

Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP)

The Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) helps vulnerable seniors stay safe and independent in their own homes by providing case management, equipment, supplies and in home support. MSSP prevents up to 350 fragile seniors from nursing home placement.

Paratransit for the Elderly and Disabled Adult (OPED)

Paratransit for the Elderly and Disabled Adult (OPED) provides transport to residents 18 years or older of Oakland or Piedmont who cannot access public transportation due to a mobility disability.

Senior Companions & Foster Grandparents Programs

Since 1974, Senior Companions have provided assistance to adults with physical, emotional or mental health limitations, most of whom are elderly. These clients have difficulties with daily living tasks and Senior Companions help them retain their dignity and independence. Since 1965, Foster Grandparent volunteers have shared their wisdom and experience with children.

Senior ASSETS Employment Program

The ASSETS Program helps low-income adults age 55 and older find work and get employment training.

Senior Information and Referral Services

HSD links individuals 60 years of age and older who need assistance to resources in the community. Follow-up on referrals occur to ensure access.

Emergency Shelters & Transitional Housing

Supports over 1000 safe beds/spaces for people experiencing homelessness.

Employment Programming for Unhoused Residents

Benefits advocacy and employment services for people who are unhoused.

Unhoused Outreach & Health & Hygiene Interventions

Street outreach to connect people experiencing homelessness with services. Portapotties, mobile showers and wash stations provided at 40 encampment sites.

Unhoused Housing Subsidies & Permanent Housing Interventions

Short and long term subsidies to support people experiencing homelessness to maintain housing, including RRH programs and OPRI. Supportive services contracted through nonprofits to support people once they have been housed.

Homelessness Prevention Grants

Grants contracted to nonprofits that provide supportive services to prevent people from becoming unhoused.

Job Training and Employment for Low-Income Residents

Through grants to non-profits, provides entrepreneurship/job training and employment placement opportunities to BIPOC residents with low income.

Financial Support Services

Through grants to non-profits, provides tax prep, second chance banking accounts, financial coaching, debt reduction, and credit repair.

Youth and Family Services

Supports through non-profit grants after-school, academic and youth developmennt services, family resource centers at schools, community sites, and safe spaces for specific youth populations.

Youth Employment, Leadership & Development

Supports through non-profit grants youth job training, internships and placement, and support services.

Sugar Sweetened Beverage Community Grants

Supports through non-profit grants the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity and reduction in sugar sweetened beverage consumption.

Child Development Centers

HSD runs 14 Centers across Oakland providing education & child development services to 758 children from low-income families.

Early Childhood Home Based Program

Education & Child Development services provided to 248 children in their homes.

Early Childhood Family Services

Provides support services to the entire family and assists parents in their personal and family development.

Early Childhood Health Services

Provides high-quality health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition services that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and that will support each child’s growth and school readiness.

Early Childhood Disability Services

Meets the individualized needs of children with disabilities,and ensures all children have access to and can fully participate in the full range of activities and services. 

Boards and Commissions

Staffs and supports 10 City Boards & Commissions: the Mayor's Commission on Aging, the Senior Center Advisory Boards at each of the four Senior Centers, the Alameda County-Oakland Community Action Partnership Administrating Board, the Kids First Oversight Commission, the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission, the Head Start Policy Council, and the Head Start Advisory Board.

Resilience and Trauma Informed Systems Work

Supports resilience in communities after trauma and to create trauma-informed systems of care.

Internal Services

Administration & Grant Management

Monitors department budget, pays vendors, prepares reports, and manages various grant programs.

Policy & Planning

Provides overall direction, strategy and supervision for the department. Ensures strong collaboration with external agencies such as OUSD and Alameda County.


Oakland’s Human Services Department provides services to promote equity and resilience for Oakland residents, many of whom are low income and/or experiencing a life crisis such as homelessness. In 2020, HSD:

  • Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alameda County-Oakland Community Action Partnership (AC-OCAP), provided support to help 4,537 Oakland & 13,888 Alameda County low-income residents receive $29,229,582 total in tax returns countywide (with $9,143,672 captured for Oakland) and $8.5 million of that in Earned Income Tax Credits (with $3 million captured for Oakland low-wage workers and families).

  • Engaged community members with 6 Commissions and 4 Senior Center Advisory Boards and worked with over 300 volunteers formally and many more informally.

  • Responding to Covid, intensified focus on basic needs, housing and food security, mental health supports, enhanced community outreach, continued work on racial equity and trauma informed systems.

  • Distributed 357,811 meals and snacks across all programs to those most vulnerable to Covid.

  • Provided cash assistance of $300 to over 550 families to address Covid impact.

  • Performed over 1,200 Covid wellness checks monthly to isolated seniors via senior centers, MSSP and senior companions.

  • Sheltered over 700 unhoused individuals in variety of emergency interventions including RV, cabin sites, bricks and mortar shelter sites.

  • Opened temporary and permanent Family Matters shelter, now serving 20 families with 50 children.

  • Served 665 low-income children and their families both virtually and in-person through the Oakland Head Start & Early Head Start programs.

  • OPED provided 40,000 rides for 2,000 seniors for essential medical appointments.

  • Used funding in new ways to create 42 permanently subsidized units for seniors under Homekey and 770 family with permanent housing under OPRI.

  • Oversaw over 200+ grant agreements providing $45M directly to our BIPOC, low-income communities.