Since Mayor Arreguin's election in November, the city has taken bold steps to address the homeless crisis.
Within weeks of taking office, the Mayor worked with several other councilmembers to activate the regional Emergency Operations Center. The city was able to immediately double the number of shelter beds and warming centers available, providing life-saving shelter to hundreds of homeless individuals.
The Mayor's office is now working to create a year-round short-term shelter, while developing measures to help people successfully transition to living on their own.
Homelessness is a complex social problem caused by a faulty social safety net, lack of housing that is affordable, low wages, insufficient drug treatment programs and many other factors.
Click here to get a fuller picture of the situation in Berkeley and Alameda County. And read on below to learn about some of the solutions our city is working on. Together, we can make a difference!
The Pathways Project
Central to the Mayor's plan for combating homelessness is The Pathways Project, which includes both short and long term measures to help shelter our growing homeless population, and restore Berkeley’s streets, parks and neighborhoods to their intended use.
In June, the city opened its first navigation center, which will allow the homeless to bring their partners, pets, and personal belongings with them. The center is much more than a shelter. Here, the unsheltered get a caseworker who can help them address substance abuse, mental health issues, assist with job searches and eventually connect the homeless to permanent housing or reunify them with their families.
1,000 Person Plan
Over the past year, the mayor's office has been working on the 1,000 Person Plan, a reference to the number of people who are currently unsheltered in our community. The goal is to work with our regional partners to build 8,500 deeply affordable units throughout Alameda County by 2023. In between now and then, we plan to leverage Measure A1 (paid for by all county residents) and state funds to build more tiny home villages, micro units and other transitional housing until permanent affordable housing is built.
The goal of the 1,000 Person Plan is to create enough shelter and housing that is affordable to address the needs of our unsheltered population and prevent new people in our community from becoming homeless. We know that no city alone can “solve” homelessness. But working together with other Alameda County cities, we can significantly lower the homeless population and make sure that fewer people have to sleep on the streets.
The Homeless Outreach and Treatment Team
In June 2017, the city launched the Homeless Outreach and Treatment Team to target the two-pronged problem of mental health and homelessness.
This program, staffed by trained outreach workers, will contact homeless people with serious mental health issues and help them access crucial services with the hope of transitioning to permanent housing.
Clients will be selected based on a number of factors such as living with mental illness, suffering from addiction, frequent use of emergency rooms and problematic street behavior. The team will work together with The Hub, the city’s coordinated point of entry for housing and homeless services.
The Berkeley Way Project
When completed, the project will consist of 142 permanent affordable housing units, along with emergency shelter and transitional housing for homeless veterans. This is the largest investment into housing the homeless and the working poor the city has ever made.
To make this project a reality, the Mayor and other councilmembers are working to leverage the city’s investment to obtain $17 million in state funds through the California Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities