One of the most common misconceptions about the homeless is that they choose to be on the streets. The sad reality is that many have simply been priced out their homes, even those who are working. Others lost their jobs as a result of addiction or mental health issues. We know that by building more affordable housing for the extremely low income and increasing case management, we can give people not just a hand out, but a hand up.
Stories are numerous here in our city. Below are two testimonials of people who have experienced homelessness in Berkeley.
Jared Jeffrey, a 31-year-old now living at the Men’s Shelter in Downtown Berkeley used to be a licensed nurse, but he lost his license after getting addicted to pain medication. He then got another job, as a security guard, but he could not afford the rising rents in his apartment, which he shared with 6 people. With the help of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, Jared has recently started a construction apprenticeship with the RISE Center and is working on rebuilding his life.
Bruce North, who has been looking for work ever since getting out of jail a year ago is 55 and has experience working in Information Technology. But because of his age and his criminal record, employers have been hesitant to hire him. He receives SSI, but it’s not enough to cover even a room for rent. So he has been staying at the Men’s Shelter and volunteering at a local organization during the day. Bruce wants to be a contributing member of our society, but whenever he tries, his past catches up with him.
With additional funds, we can help people like Bruce and Jared get their lives back with subsidized housing, supportive services and employment training.
People who grew up here and who have worked in this community for years simply cannot afford to live here anymore. Our artists and teachers have been pushed out by higher and higher rents and many others have found themselves living on the streets.
As inequality rises throughout our region and state, our community struggles to remain a diverse, thriving, safe and welcoming city for all.
Men are disproportionately represented in the homeless population. While successful efforts have been made to reduce the number of children and transitional age youth from homelessness, the number of seniors who are homeless has been on the rise. Many of these people are on a fixed income and can no longer afford rising rents and medical costs.
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