Tag Archives: Berkeley homelessness

Crime

Man charged after aluminum bat attack in Berkeley

Zuber Awad. Photo: ACSO
Print Friendly

A homeless man charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon after an attack with an aluminum baseball bat in West Berkeley in July is scheduled to appear in court to be sentenced Wednesday.

According to court papers, Zuber Awad, 26, was with another man’s girlfriend at University Avenue and West Frontage Road on July 1 when angry words were exchanged.

Police say Awad then hit the other man with an aluminum baseball bat causing an injury that required eight stitches.

According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, Awad was identified to police as a homeless camper in the area who was known to wear a diving weight around his neck.

Police arrested Awad the day after the baseball bat assault at about 10:10 a.m. at Cedar and Second streets in West Berkeley. According to police, he was on probation at the time of his arrest for battery causing serious bodily injury.

According to police, Awad said he did hit the man but that he did so with his closed fist, not the bat. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,
Opinionator

Op-ed: It’s not rocket science to solve homelessness

Print Friendly

The issue of homelessness is a Gordian knot that for years has perplexed not only elected officials, but also the citizens of Berkeley, in particular our business community.

While many solutions have been proposed and implemented, and millions of dollars spent, the net result is a 53% increase in the un-sheltered homeless population. This should make one pause and ask, “Why is that?”

In order to answer that question we must first understand that current policy is either to criminalize … Continue reading »

Tagged ,
Crime

Man, with knife in pocket, arrested after double stabbing

Homeless people make camp in Civic Center Park as the second Bay Area Book Festival takes place around them, in Berkeley, on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
Print Friendly

The man police say is responsible for stabbing two people at Civic Center Park in June has been arrested and is set to appear in court Tuesday.

Authorities say he had the knife used in the stabbing in his pocket at the time of his arrest last week.

Police arrested 62-year-old Lindell Waters in Oakland on Friday evening during a vehicle stop.

Waters was arrested by the Oakland Police Department at about 6:30 p.m. on San Pablo Avenue and 32nd Street. OPD then contacted the Berkeley Police Department after seeing that he had a warrant out of Berkeley for attempted murder in connection with the June 18 stabbing.

A woman previously described the scene at the park before the stabbing to Berkeleyside: “There was definitely an altercation going on between the seemingly homeless folks by the fountain” involving “lots of loud yelling of profanity and loose dogs. A woman seemed to be bugging a man that fit the description of the the suspect.”

The fight happened adjacent to a popular Berkeley farmers market on Center Street, though the stabbing took place at 3:35 p.m. after the market had officially ended at 3 p.m.

Lt. Kevin Schofield, a Berkeley Police spokesman, confirmed that the stabbing at Civic Center Park, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, followed a “heated dispute among a group of homeless people.”  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Crime

Berkeley police recover 18 pounds of pot, alleged hash oil operation on Gilman

Police recovered 18 pounds of marijuana at a Gilman Street homeless encampment Saturday. Photo: BPD
Print Friendly

Two Berkeley Police officers on foot patrol at a Gilman Street homeless encampment over the weekend reportedly found 18 pounds of marijuana inside a tent that smelled of weed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the officers were doing a security check near Gilman and the Eastshore Highway at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they came across a tent that smelled strongly of marijuana.

Last week, after Caltrans installed a large fence beneath the I-80 freeway on Gilman where dozens of homeless people had been camping, many of those individuals reportedly moved their tents over to the Eastshore Highway and Gilman, local residents have told Berkeleyside.

Inside the tent, police said they found 18 pounds of pot in a garbage bag, 25 cans of butane, and what they determined to be a hash oil cultivation system.

Schofield said the butane can be used in the cooking process to create hash oil from the marijuana.

Authorities also found a replica pistol and a switchblade knife, he said.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Community

To curtail camping, Caltrans builds new fence on Gilman

Caltrans workers work on putting up a steel fence to keep out homeless campers at the Gilman Street interchange of Interstate 80, in Berkeley, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
Print Friendly

In the latest attempt by authorities to keep people from camping in Berkeley beneath the Interstate 80 freeway, Caltrans built a stronger fence on Gilman Street this week.

Homeless campers, many of whom came from the Albany Bulb, have said the freeway offers shelter in the rainy months, and feels like their place of last resort. For those who panhandle, the location allows easy access to both vehicles coming off the freeway and nearby San Pablo Avenue, where McDonald’s is another high-traffic spot to interact with drivers, and gas stations offer a place to clean up.

While advocates for those experiencing homelessness say these individuals shouldn’t be penalized and have nowhere else to go, other local residents have expressed frustration at what the city has described as a public health nightmare rife with used needles, bottles of urine, rats scurrying around and human feces.

Read more about the Gilman underpass.

The new fencing, on the south side of Gilman Street below the overpass, is designed to make it harder for people to set up tents on either side of the sidewalk. It joins other new fencing that has gone up in recent weeks to restrict access to areas around the freeway where the homeless have been living.

Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said the city of Berkeley asked the agency to improve upon the existing chain link fencing that was installed in 2014 to try to tackle the same problem.

“Berkeley asked us to put in something,” he said. “And we agreed that that was warranted.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Homeless advocates in Berkeley say officials are dumping too many prized personal possessions

Crews load stuff found near Gilman Street in June  Photo: Ted Friedman
Print Friendly

By Mary Rees

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but who gets to decide which it is?

Every two weeks, Caltrans clears items out from the homeless encampments along the Gilman Street underpass near Interstate 80, according to Bob Haus, the public information branch chief for Caltrans. Sometimes workers from the city of Berkeley remove things, too, such as on July 7.

Read more about Berkeley homelessness on Berkeleyside.

The clean-ups are announced in advance, and when workers arrive the people living there pack up their things as quickly as they can and move them a few hundred feet. Then crews from Caltrans and Berkeley sift through what’s left and decide what’s valuable and what’s not.

“If belongings are deemed valuable, we hold onto them for 30 days at the nearest maintenance yard,” Haus said. If something’s unclaimed and considered worthless, Caltrans disposes of it. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Opinionator

Op-ed: Confronting the causes and solutions of mass homelessness

Print Friendly

Policy makers, government agencies, funders, and nonprofits alike all cling to the concept and importance of data like it is a panacea for societal ills—it is not. Data is only as good as our ability and willingness to act on it. Case in point: homelessness.

Where Does Mass Homelessness Come From?

Mass homelessness was not always our reality. Poverty has always existed but poor people scraped by with shared resources, in whatever living arrangements they could afford: today’s reality of … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,
Opinionator

Op-ed: Homeless lite in the East Bay — an odyssey

Print Friendly

On my birthday last month, I had to vacate the home where I’d been for about a year. I wasn’t evicted, but my lease ran out, and I was given five weeks’ notice that the month-to-month arrangement was over. During the search for a home, I saw some nice people with scary places and scary people living in nice places. As with many in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m willing to make lifestyle sacrifices to share housing with others … Continue reading »

Tagged ,
Opinionator

Op-ed: Not in my front yard: Cuts to downtown services threaten basic quality of life for the homeless

Print Friendly

While the number one priority for serving homeless people is (or should be) helping them find affordable housing to live in, for the last several years the city has also rightly deemed it an important quality-of-life priority that homeless people have access to showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities.

Until now.

BOSS’s Multi-Agency Service Center (MASC) is a downtown drop-in center located in the basement at the City Veterans building. Since 2000, it has provided access to showers, bathrooms, laundry, and, … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

UC Berkeley’s Suitcase Clinic: Services for the homeless, life lessons for the volunteers

Chris Ki, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, cuts the hair of Michael Georgeius, a client of The Suitcase Clinic. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/UC Berkeley
Print Friendly

By Cathy Cockrell, UC Berkeley News

A foot washing. A haircut. Empathy. Legal advice. Eyeglasses or dental work. Medical attention for a wound, a case of scabies or even diabetes.

All these needs bring people living on the margins to the Suitcase Clinic — a free service that UC Berkeley students have provided near campus for more than a quarter century.

See Berkeleyside’s Berkeley Homeless Project coverage. Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

On a recent Tuesday evening, several dozen people turned up at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, on Dana Street, for the first “general clinic” of the summer (the Suitcase Clinic also holds specialized clinics for women, youth, and LGBTQI people). … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,
Community

City erects fence at Gilman to deal with homeless campers

Workers clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman interchange of Interstate 80 to put up a fence, in Berkeley, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Photo: David Yee
Print Friendly

The city of Berkeley is working Thursday to install a new fence on Gilman Street on the southeast side of the Interstate 80 freeway as part of ongoing efforts to curtail camping by homeless in the area.

Jim Hynes, from the Berkeley city manager’s office, brought “No Trespassing” signs down to the site in the late morning to hand out to workers who were installing the fence. Hynes said he was also looking into what it might cost to put more fencing on the north side of the street east of the freeway.

Three people received citations Thursday from Berkeley Police officers for obstructing the sidewalk, but no arrests were made. Campers in the area said their property — much of which had both material and sentimental value — was taken and put into a dumpster as part of the enforcement effort.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol were also on scene for the cleanup.

Hynes said campers in the area were given notice two days in a row that authorities would be on scene Thursday. He pointed out dozens of used syringes left in the area in the wake of the cleanup, as well as juice bottles full of urine. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Gilman Street underpass: For many, the poster child of Berkeley homeless camps

This man, who didn't want to give his name, lives by the Gilman underpass. He makes $30 to $40 a day  scavenging. He finds lots of food (people throw away a lot from Trader Joe's) as well as things like scooters, skateboards, etc. When Caltrans and Berkeley recently cleaned out the camp, he just went across the street and returned when they left, he said. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel // homeless
Print Friendly

Bood’s home is a blue tarp on Eastshore Freeway, the frontage road right by the Gilman Street underpass. At 37, he’s been living on the streets for a few years, driven there by a break-up with a long-time girlfriend.

Bood scavenges for a living. He makes the rounds in Berkeley and El Cerrito looking for tossed food (a lot of people throw away food from Trader Joe’s, he said) and discarded clothing he can sell to Buffalo Exchange and other consignment stores. The area around his tarp reflects the way he makes a living: There are folding chairs, rugs, candles and flashlights, among other items.

See full coverage on Berkeleyside of the Berkeley Homeless Project.

Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, Berkeley police and city workers came to the area to clean it out about two weeks ago, June 16. They carted away garbage trucks full of debris. They also found more than 250 used hypodermic needles and bottles of urine, as well as feces and dead rodents.

Did the clean up have any effect on Bood and the rest of the people hanging out in the area?

No.

“We gathered our stuff up, we went across the street and waited for them to leave,” said Bood, who did not give his last name. “Then we set back up.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Would a homeless mayor in Berkeley make a difference for the homeless?

Mike Lee, who is running for mayor, at his "office" at Au Coquelet on June 22, 2016. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Guy “Mike” Lee sat at a wooden table in the back of Au Coquelet restaurant on University Avenue. His laptop computer was open in front of him, its cord stretching behind to an electrical outlet on the wall. Lee’s cell phone was also charging.

This spot serves as an office of sorts for Lee, 60, who is running for mayor of Berkeley. Lee is homeless, so every morning he travels from where he sleeps (which he won’t reveal – for safety reasons, he says) to coffee shops and quick-serve restaurants in the downtown, meeting people along the way.

“People come looking for me,” said Lee, who has a broad forehead, deep brown eyes and a long, wiry salt and pepper beard. “They check in at Starbucks depending what time it is. Generally Monday through Friday it’s Starbucks or McDonald’s. If they don’t see me, they’ll come down here.”

Lee only arrived in Berkeley on this go-around about a year ago, but in that short time he has emerged as a voice for the homeless, as well as a leader. He was part of the “Post Office Defenders,” the group that occupied a space next to the Main Post Office on Allston Way until it was shut down in April. He participated in Liberty City, the encampment outside Old City Hall last winter. Lee is active on Facebook and keeps up a steady stream of posts on his page, The Bum As Mayor?  He is also in regular communication with city officials and politicians. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,