Berkeley Announces Extension of Emergency Shelter
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stefan Elgstrand, (510) 502-7003
Berkeley, CA – Mayor Jesse Arreguin announced Friday that the Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter (BESS) will remain open until May 31st. The shelter, located at 1925 Ninth Street in a city-owned warehouse, was scheduled to close this Sunday.
The Mayor, working with Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley was able to identify emergency funding to keep the shelter in operation. Since opening in late December, the shelter has provided a safe and warm space for up to 90 individuals. In addition to shelter beds, volunteers have provided free meals, and service providers have visited shelter clients. Several clients were able to secure permanent housing as a result of their stay at the BESS.
Facing the possibility of closure, many shelter clients were worried about ending up back on the street. Given the success of the shelter, the city worked rapidly, with the shelter operator Dorothy Day House, to keep the shelter going for one more month.
“I am delighted that the Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter will stay open for at least one more month, providing respite for our unhoused residents. We could not let people end up back on the street. Berkeley is committed to providing compassionate and effective solutions to address the growing humanitarian crisis on our streets.” said Mayor Jesse Arreguin
The Berkeley City Council will vote at its May 1st meeting on ratifying the extension of the shelter and will consider allocating additional funding to keep the shelter open beyond May 31st.
Originally established as a storm shelter during inclement weather, it became incredibly popular with Berkeley’s growing unhoused population. According to the 2017 Everyone Home Point-In-Time Count, Berkeley has 972 people identified as homeless, the majority of whom are without permanent shelter.
The Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter is part of Berkeley’s efforts to address homelessness. These strategies include the HUB, Berkeley’s Coordinated Entry System for permanent housing, and also include increased funding for rapid rehousing and anti-displacement. Berkeley is working in partnership with BRIDGE Housing and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project on a 154-unit development on the city-owned Berkeley Way Parking Lot to provide permanent supportive housing and emergency shelter. Berkeley will also soon be launching the STAIR Center, a 24-hour-a-day, service-rich homeless shelter on Second and Cedar.