New talks on homelessness in Berkeley start Thursday

 Derrick Coetzee

Thursday’s meeting will provide a starting point for discussion on homelessness, proponents say, with an introduction to the causes and state of homelessness from a national, regional and local perspective. Photo: Derrick Coetzee

Thursday evening, the Berkeley Task Force on Homelessness will begin a new community-driven process designed to explore homelessness in Berkeley, and how it might be addressed thoughtfully and humanely.

Initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, the task force was created “to continue the much-needed conversation on homelessness after Measure S, which would have banned sitting on commercial sidewalks, narrowly failed last fall,” according to a statement released by Arreguín’s office Wednesday. The task force arose as an alternative way to address homelessness. 

Organizers say task force work will be predicated on public participation, dialogue, and in-depth research and consultation. The ongoing process aims to includes a diverse range of stakeholders, from service providers and advocates to property and business owners, as well as the homeless themselves. The public is highly encouraged to participate and offer their ideas.

“The issues of homelessness are incredibly complex, but we are a smart and compassionate city. With community collaboration and some critical and creative thinking, we can find solutions that make sense and reflect our values,” said Arreguín. “We have to do it right this time around and it starts with understanding homelessness.”

Thursday’s meeting will provide a “starting point” for discussion, said Arreguín, with an introduction to homelessness from national, regional and local perspectives. Panelists from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Alameda County’s EveryOne Home, the city’s Health, Housing and Community Services, and homeless service providers will take part in the panel. The program will also include testimonials from people who are homeless in Berkeley, as well as the results of a survey that set out to learn more about the needs of the homeless.

Speakers include Katharine Gale, of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, to provide a national perspective; Elaine DeColigny of EveryOne Home to discuss the situation in the county; Kristen Lee, of the city’s Housing Department, to describe city policies and services; Patti Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center; and testimonials from Youth Spirit Artworks members. Arreguín will conclude with survey results related to homelessness in Berkeley and next steps.

The meeting will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Berkeley YMCA Teen Center at 2111 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Learn more via the task force webpage.

Berkeley Food and Housing Project wins $1m grant (07.23.13)
Op-Ed: Berkeley needs a year-round youth shelter (05.30.13)
People’s Park focal point for countywide homeless count (02.01.13)
Berkeley moves towards a consensus homeless plan (01.31.13)
After Measure S failure, it’s time to act on homelessness (01.24.13)
Has it gotten harder to be homeless in Berkeley? (01.02.13)
Measure S: Will it help or hurt the homeless? (10.31.12)
Measure S: We can do better with civil sidewalks (09.19.12)
Downtown Berkeley ambassadors help, monitor homeless (07.02.12)
Berkeley sitting ban progresses toward November ballot (06.13.12)
Proposed sidewalk sitting ban prompts debate, protest (06.12.12)
Mayor seeks to put sit-lie ordinance on November ballot (06.01.12)
Police step up patrols on Telegraph to clear sidewalks (05.01.12)
Berkeley students want better stores, fewer street people (05.31.11)

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  • Hildah

    Why is this forum being held when many are away on vacation including members of the City Council?

  • AnthonySanchez

    While Council is on “vacation,” more of a majority are in town. As for others being on vacation, it would be impossible to have this forum this summer without some overlap with some vacations; we could not wait until the fall to have this forum because the goal is conclude early Spring and this process has been in the making for a while. Lastly, this was an introductory, informational meeting, whose video will be uploaded soon for everybody -later in the process there will be plenty of opportunity to participate, and, in particular, we plan to have an online component recognizing that not everyone can attend meetings.

    I hope that answers your question. We’re doing our best to accommodate everybody.

  • The_Sharkey

    Nobody is scapegoating homeless people for Berkeley’s economic woes.
    Aren’t you tired of slapping away at that straw man yet?

  • The_Sharkey

    Can you please point to the comment where I state “There are no types of homeless other than chronic or lifestyle.

  • guest_zero

    How sad and futile for you to pretend that your terse, judgmental, dismissive comment was some kind of treatise that you now can defend with this response.

  • Mel Content

    you draw a surprisingly bright line between the services that you
    personally rely upon for your safety and comfort (free roads, free
    police, free libraries, free schools, and so on) and those that the less
    fortunate fall back on.

    I’m willing to bet that Sharkey has a job and pays taxes to support those government services he uses. These homeless certainly aren’t paying taxes, and in many cases aren’t interested in working in the first place.

    You know, a lot of you so-called “progressives” blather on and on about “sustainability” without any idea what the word actually means. In terms of economic sustainability, the only way a society can “sustain” itself is if the people who pay the bills actually have a voice in how that money is spent. The various alkies, druggies, derelicts and professional bums aren’t paying for it, and in many cases nor are many of their self-designated protectors and enablers. As far as your perceived “social contract”, where did we ever sign up to the idea that people who can’t get their own act together have the right to demand that the rest of us subsidize their activities? The elevating of the “homeless” over the rest of the population and
    granting them the right to squat, sleep, urinate and defecate wherever
    they want without regard for their effect on others is the primary
    reason for the so-called “homeless problem” in Berkeley in the first place.

  • Mel Content

    Playing internet psychologist based on utter ignorance seems like such a waste of time.

    It’s what progressive lefties do best, as it allows them to avoid dealing with subjects that don’t fit the paradigm of their little world view.

  • Mel Content

    I’m making no more assumptions about your background than you are about the people you claim to be “lifestyle homeless”.

    What “assumptions” are being made? The majority of them are either substance abusers or mentally ill (or a combination of both). Plenty of studies support those “assumptions”. The silly little liberal idea that these were all hard-working taxpayers who lost their job one day thanks to the evil George W Bush (we’re not allowed to blame Obama) and are struggling to get back on their feet isn’t supported by facts.

  • Mel Content

    The chronic homeless are living on the streets because they’re addicts or
    mentally ill and won’t stay in housing even if given it.

    Does that give them the right to squat in People’s Park and act as a general menace to health and safety to working, responsible taxpayers and students? This is the problem I have with you pro-homeless bleeding-heart lefties. It isn’t about “helping the homeless”. It’s about your insistence that their condition gives them license to run amuck and do as they please, without holding them personally responsible for the consequences of their own actions.

  • Mel Content

    How sad that you get into personal attacks of Sharkey as opposed to dealing with the issue at hand. But then again, puffing your chest and feigning moral indignation is easier than explaining why a community such as Berkeley has such a disproportionate problem with homelessness compared to most other places in this state.

  • Mel Content

    Been to Paris once. No real burning urge to go back. I prefer Asia and other places in the world where the locals still have a semblance of a work ethic.

  • Mel Content

    The whole problem with the homeless paradigm in liberal Utopian conclaves such as Berkeley, SF and Santa Cruz is that the people there aren’t members of the local communities who somehow fell through the cracks, but people who made a deliberately decision to move to a place that tolerated their chosen lifestyle of vagrancy. The “homeless activists” in those places aren’t functioning as agents of getting people off the streets, but in fact acting as enablers of their lifestyle. In some cases these enablers are antediluvian Marxists trying to promote their vision of class warfare, in other cases local political aspirants looking for an agenda and vehicle for publicity. In the cases of the mushy-headed septuagenarians still sentimental over the 1960’s, they are living their own lives vicariously through transient teens, ignoring the fact that it’s not “peace and love” that these street punks are peddling. In just about every case, however, actually solving the issue isn’t much of a priority.

  • Mel Content

    Berkeley is logistically indefensible against crime if you continue to push so hard for a class segregated society.

    He’s doing nothing of the sort – he’s asking a commonsense question. Most of these so-called “homeless” aren’t from Berkeley in the first place, so why not move them to a more appropriate location, unless you are trying to enable the problem in the first place?

  • berkeleyan

    The whole problem with your comment is that you call Berkeley a “liberal utopian enclave”.
    Why should we listen to your opinion after your (intended) insult to our community?

  • berkeleyan

    >not paying taxes
    Every single person in this country pays taxes with every single purchase. And has for their whole lives.

  • Mel Content

    The whole problem with your comment is that you call Berkeley a “liberal utopian enclave”.Why should we listen to your opinion after your (intended) insult to our community?

    Because you just might learn something, and gain some perspective outside the normal channels of thought filtered by Political Correctness in Berkeley. I do find it amusing how you feign indignation over being insulted, given that Berkeley residents have no problem in regularly insulting, demeaning and ridiculing people elsewhere who don’t share their world view. My time at Cal gave me enough of an exposure to the Berkeley mindset to see that firsthand.

  • Mel Content

    Or where the money goes further away from their own little hands. Evacuating the homeless from Berkeley would be considered a disaster by the local cottage industry self-identified as “homeless activism”. It’s the same reason people who work for H&R Block are vehemently opposed to a flat federal income tax. What do you do for a living when your reason for existence goes away?

  • Mel Content

    I realize that people also use antisocial to mean simply a deviation
    from social norms, but it’s worth considering that deviation from social
    norms is not always negative.

    Well, you apparently have a more positive view of panhandling, public intoxication, open abuse of drugs, squatting, and p!ssing/sh!tting in the streets than the rest of us. You can pat yourself on the back for being such a tolerant and open-minded Berkeley progressive…

  • Charles_Siegel

    I wish you would take your own advice and deal with issues rather than getting into personal attacks.

    I just looked at your comments about public art, and most of them were personal attacks on me, on progressive lefties, and on bohemian wannabes – personal attacks that were just insults and that said nothing at all about the issues and nothing at all of substance.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “How sad that you get into personal attacks … as opposed to
    dealing with the issue at hand. But then again, puffing your chest and
    feigning moral indignation is easier than explaining ….”

  • Mel Content

    I see you had no reply of substance, Charlie.

  • Mel Content

    I just looked at your comments about public art, and most of them were
    personal attacks on me, on progressive lefties, and on bohemian wannabes

    Oh, the inhumanity of it all. Gimme a break. People from Berkeley hurl vile and invective on the rest of the country all the time without batting an eyelid. OTOH, I make some sharp criticism of a mindset that has allowed a problem to fester for DECADES and you’re acting all butt-hurt.

  • Mel Content

    Every single person in this country pays taxes with every single purchase.

    Not everyone pays taxes at the same rate – in fact, the 1% you lefties whine and cry about pay about 1/3 of all income taxes. On the other end of the scale, the pittance paid in sales taxes on consumer items by people who don’t spend a whole lot of money (and most likely didn’t earn their money in the first place) is a statistically insignificant drop in the bucket compared to the social services they consume. This blather about “we all pay taxes” is meaningless when you consider the actual magnitude of the spending involved in supporting social programs for people who can’t get their act together.

  • emraguso

    If you’re interested in issues related to homelessness in Berkeley, you may be interested in our latest story: