Tag Archives: Berkeley homelessness

IKEA donates ‘makeover’ to shelter for homeless families

The "after" picture of a living room at BOSS furnished with Ikea furniture.
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The families living in the McKinley Family Transitional House in Berkeley now have a lovely space from which to plot their move out from homelessness.

IKEA, the Scandinavian furniture store with an outlet in Emeryville, recently donated $10,000 worth of furniture and design services to McKinley House, located at 2111 McKinley Ave. in central Berkeley. The home, which is operated by BOSS, or Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, won the IKEA Life Improvement Challenge.

Now the living room has a comfortable blue plaid couch, lamps, a desk and shelving area, and new art on the wall. The bedrooms have wood dressers, beds and throw rugs. There is also new outdoor furniture on the lawn.

McKinley House is hosting an open house today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to show off the redecorated facility.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Woman arrested after punching passer-by in the face

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A homeless woman police say punched a passer-by in the head without provocation, and injured an officer who tried to detain her, has been arrested in Berkeley for at least the fourth time since March.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said Dawn Carraway, 25, caused non-life-threatening injuries to the 66-year-old Berkeley woman she attacked.

The incident happened at 4:35 p.m. Tuesday when the victim was walking near Allston Way and Milvia Street in downtown Berkeley.

“As she was walking the suspect punched the victim without provocation,” said Coats. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council postpones street behavior proposal

Many advocates for the homeless came out Tuesday night to speak before the Berkeley City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council voted early Wednesday morning to postpone consideration of a new set of laws designed to curb problematic street behavior.

The vote came around 1 a.m. after council spent the bulk of its June 30 meeting discussing the city’s biennial budget, which needs to be adopted this month. No public comment on the street behavior proposal, which came up for discussion at about 12:45 a.m., took place.

Read about homelessness in Berkeley.

Advocates for the homeless have decried the new laws as designed to criminalize people who live on the streets, while supporters of the changes have said the city must take steps to curtail sidewalk behavior that is leading to a deteriorating situation, particularly downtown and on Telegraph Avenue. Those opposing the new laws rallied in front of Old City Hall at 6 p.m.

The four ordinances, according to Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office “address sleeping in landscaped planters, asking for money (panhandling) when a person is using a parking meter or kiosk, public urination and defecation, and the amount of personal belongings one can have on the sidewalk.” The item related to belongings would have limited their presence on the sidewalk from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. … Continue reading »

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City to consider ordinances restricting street behavior

Since Measure S failed in 2012, many say Berkeley's homeless population has only grown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council is slated to vote on proposed laws that would make it illegal to solicit anyone at a parking meter, lie in or on top of a city-owned planter, spread out bedding on the sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., and urinate or defecate in a public place.

The proposed laws, depending on who is talking about them, will either address problematic street behavior downtown and make it a more pleasant place to visit, or further criminalize the homeless.

Read more about what’s coming up at tonight’s council meeting.

In March, council voted 6-3 to approve a proposal by Councilwoman Linda Maio to clarify laws related to street behavior often associated with the city’s homeless population. The four ordinances on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting are a result of that proposal.

“These ordinances are not about trying to solve homelessness,” Maio said. “They’re about basic, socially acceptable rules and behaviors.”

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Youth on the street, Berkeley anti-homeless laws, and the Supreme Court

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On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced that LGBT couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. Households all over the nation either celebrated, stiffened, or wondered what it meant to their community and to history.

In the Bay Area, the Gay Pride celebrations have been an historical way to honor the nation’s deepening acceptance of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) community members. That acceptance is strengthening at a pace once considered impossible. And across the nation in … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council open to proposals to end homelessness, but questions how to pay for them

Since Measure S failed in 2012, many say Berkeley's homeless population has only grown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At a special worksession Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council expressed interest in a raft of recommendations from an independent citizen panel related to how the city might change its approach to homelessness, but some officials said they remain unconvinced that the changes are something the city can afford.

The recommendations came from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force, which was initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 after Measure S failed the prior November to win popular support, but sparked a broad community discussion about the city’s homeless. Since then, Arreguín said, the city’s homeless population appears to have grown, though official estimates won’t be available until fall.

“There is still clearly more we can do,” Arreguín said. “Berkeley can be a leader in ending homelessness.”

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Tuesday night, Arreguín and Genevieve Wilson, one of the chairs of the panel, presented a series of recommendations for how the city might direct its funding in its efforts to end homelessness. They emphasized a “housing first” model, which they said has been endorsed by Alameda County and worked in other cities — ultimately leading to cost savings despite high initial start-up expenses. … Continue reading »

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City considers new recommendations on homelessness

Shattuck Avenue is one area of Berkeley where the homeless most commonly congregate (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is set to consider new recommendations that would focus the city’s approach to homelessness on supportive services and, in particular, housing.

Council will consider a report from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force — initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 — that proposes a series of immediate and longer term recommendations for the city in its efforts to end homelessness. The task force has been meeting under the leadership of Genevieve Wilson and David Stegman since August 2013.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

One of the task force’s priorities is to find ways to move from what it describes as the “criminalization” of the homeless to a more supportive approach.

“It is clear that providing services, rather than … criminalization, is both cost effective and ethical,” states the report. “It is up to Berkeley to provide adequate services now. Failure to do so will only further drain resources and funding without dealing with the root causes of homelessness, causing an endless spiral of homelessness and wasteful spending.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Religious leaders support effective, compassionate services, housing, not criminalization of homeless people

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To All Those Concerned: As Berkeley and Bay Area clergy and religious leaders of diverse faith traditions, we stand lovingly and firmly united in opposition to new proposed 2015 laws criminalizing homeless people. As we describe in this letter, we do so through our shared, deeply held religious convictions calling us to compassion, justice, and stewardship of resources.

The new homeless laws violate our deep conviction to express compassion for all living beings. We share a deep commitment to seeing … Continue reading »

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Options Recovery expands to new offices in Berkeley

Drug and alcohol treatment organization Options Recovery Services will expand offices and clients into the Old Berkeley Annex. Photo: Options Recovery Services
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Options Recovery Services is set to expand to Berkeley’s Old City Hall annex space this month. The drug and alcohol treatment program is currently located on Center Street, and will retain that space while moving mostly administrative offices into the building at 1835 Allston Way.

The organization will hold an open house Thursday, June 18, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., where staff will acknowledge the supporters and donors who are helping to renovate the new space, as well as accept new donations.

The organization is still actively fundraising to meet a goal of $205,000 to pay for renovations that needed to be done to make the building safe. All the necessary safety improvements required before the move-in date have been made.
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Fire

Berkeley authorities respond to fire near Ashby, I-80

Photo: Kester Allen
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Update, 4:20 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department Battalion Chief Paul Cavagnaro said the fire in Berkeley on Friday was confined to a 20-by-20-foot area of “pretty thick brush” in the midst of numerous homeless encampments where Bay Street goes over Ashby Avenue near the freeway.

Firefighters were dispatched to the area at 1:16 p.m., and Cavagnaro said the fire was likely out by around 1:30 p.m. There were no injuries.

Cavagnaro said that, despite an initial report that it may have been arson, no one witnessed anyone set anything on fire. He said many homeless people live in the area on both sides of the freeway, but that it’s difficult to estimate how many because the camps are “joined together.”

“We’re not sure how many people are living in the bushes,” he said.

Update, 3:55 p.m. Berkeley Police Lt. Alyson Hart said the fire was limited to property damage at two homeless camps. She said the fire may have been either arson or an accident, and that no one is in custody. Berkeleyside will follow up with the Berkeley Fire Department for additional information.

Original story, 1:50 p.m. Berkeley authorities are responding to a fire near Ashby Avenue and Interstate 80, which is backing up traffic in the area.

Community members in West Berkeley reported the smell of smoke and the sound of loud firetrucks just before 1:30 p.m. near Ashby and Ninth Street. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley’s new donation boxes obfuscate underlying issues

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It’s no accident that the newly launched “Positive Change Donation Program”, a partnership of the Downtown Berkeley Association, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, and City of Berkeley, was introduced at the same time that new anti-homeless downtown measures were passed. Donation box programs are in vogue, with similar programs in Indianapolis, Denver, Pasadena, and Orlando, used as a karmic counter-balance when stricter anti-homeless enforcement is implemented. (And while Berkeley aggressively pursues legal enforcement of its own stricter anti-homeless measures, … Continue reading »

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Berkeley launches donation boxes for homeless people

(From left to right) Downtown Berkeley Associatoin CEO John Caner, Vice Mayor Linda Maio, Berkeley Food & Housing Project Executive Director Terrie Light, and City Councilman Jesse Arreguin pose before making the first donations to the Positive Change box. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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Members of the Berkeley City Council, the Downtown Berkeley Association, and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project gathered by the downtown BART station Thursday to launch a donation program for the city’s homeless population.

The “Positive Change” program will install up to 10 tamperproof donation boxes around downtown Berkeley in which donors can drop off money to pay for social services geared to help reduce homelessness. Collected by the Downtown Berkeley Association once a week, the donations will go into a bank account from which the Berkeley Food and Housing Project can allocate funds.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

The donations will go toward transportation assistance in the form of bus or BART fares; ID card and housing application fees; supplies, such as socks, underwear and toiletries; and the Homeward Bound Program, which pays for long-distance bus tickets to reunite with family members in another California city, according to a statement released by the Downtown Berkeley Association. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Panhandlers arrested after double stabbing on Telegraph

Image: Google Maps
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Two panhandlers were arrested early Saturday morning after police say they stabbed two bar patrons on Telegraph Avenue.

According to a statement released by the University of California Police Department, officers responded to a call at about 1:40 a.m. about an assault with a knife that had just taken place on Telegraph.

Two men were leaving a bar near Telegraph and Channing Way when two panhandlers approached them.

“An altercation ensued and the panhandlers stabbed the two bar patrons,” according to UCPD.

Both men were taken to Highland Hospital to be treated for their injuries. … Continue reading »

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