Messiah "Peck" Alil organizes materials that were dumped off at a homeless camp on Wood Street in West Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. He's been a resident of the camp for about a year and a half and is a homeless activist. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Can your spare bedroom help solve Oakland’s homelessness crisis?

OAKLAND — For everyone who has ever passed one of this city’s sprawling homeless encampments and wondered how to help, Mayor Libby Schaaf has an answer — open your door to someone in need of shelter.

The Oakland mayor is asking residents to offer their spare rooms, Airbnb units and rental properties to the city’s homeless, a radical proposition that has prompted both cautious optimism and scathing criticism from her constituents. Some landlords worry taking in down-on-their-luck tenants could backfire, and skeptical homeless advocates say this Band-Aid of a solution doesn’t solve the larger problem. But others, watching Oakland’s homelessness crisis grow to devastating proportions, say now is the time for outside-the-box thinking.

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