Tag Archives: Berkeley homelessness

Berkeley finds fund to expand homeless services during wet weather

Volunteers from Night on the Streets Catholic Worker serve food to the homeless. Photo: Matt Werner
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Berkeley’s homeless population will now have more places to take shelter from the inclement weather after city officials directed extra funds to extend and expand shelter and outreach services.

The city has committed to opening a new overnight emergency shelter at the North Berkeley Senior Center and is working to expand the hours at two daytime drop-in centers, according to Councilwoman Linda Maio, who worked with an ad hoc group of homeless advocates in recent days to develop the plan (the updated list of city homeless services is here).

The extra effort means that there will be beds available the next few nights, including Christmas, according to JC Orton of Night on the Streets Catholic Worker, which runs a shelter during inclement weather. The First Congregational Church has agreed to open its doors on Christmas night, which it had not originally planned to do, said Orton. Berkeley is also opening the North Berkeley Senior Center tonight and Sunday for people to sleep in.

“The city came to the rescue,” said Orton. “The First Congregational Church came to the rescue.”  … Continue reading »

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Homeless man plans community carol sing-along

Eugene featured
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By Maddie Greene

“I’ll be home for Christmas” promises the song, but not everyone has a home for the holidays. Berkeley’s Eugene Green, 55 and technically homeless, loves Christmas so much that he’s bringing the celebration to him this year. While others were still considering their Halloween costumes, Green was planning a community singalong scheduled to take place Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. near his Southwest Berkeley tent.

“I’m working on making a happy place for people to come and sing carols and feel the Christmas spirit,” said Green.

A 17-year Berkeley resident, Green has made a dead-end street not far from the Aquatic Park his home for two years. In that time he’s charmed a significant portion of his neighborhood. … Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on bike sharing, PRC protest report, homeless services, housing

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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It may be another late night for the Berkeley City Council, which has two meetings Tuesday night set to include more than 60 agenda items. At 5:30 p.m., there’s a special session on the city’s economic profile, as well as updates from state Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. For the regular 7:30 p.m. meeting, there are 19 items on the action calendar alone. There’s a public hearing on a new bike sharing program the city hopes to launch, council consideration of the Police Review Commission’s look into last year’s protests, a proposal to add homeless services to what the city already offers, and several council proposals related to living wages and housing. The latest five-year paving plan is also on the agenda, along with a resolution from the Peace and Justice Commission to end drone warfare. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: An open letter to City Council on homelessness

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Let me begin this brief note by first setting aside all the bitterness and anger I feel towards recent actions you have taken against me personally as a member of the homeless community. I am commanded to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 5:1) and this I shall attempt to do.

Before you tonight are two very important agenda items. The first is declaring … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A night in Berkeley’s Liberty City

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I wanted to camp at least once at Liberty City when I learned how it had formed, partly because I wanted to see what was really up, and partly because I wanted to meet the participants I had heard so much about, and partly because I had been hidden homeless two years, myself, and the things bound up in protest resonated strongly with my own sentiments while I was without permanent housing in Berkeley. So I borrowed a sleeping bag and mat from a friend, and I headed over to check things out after letting a few people know I was coming.

When I arrived I was warmly welcomed. A couple people toured me around the demonstration and explained its boundaries: there was a set of people directly affiliated with the protest, and then there were others who were not for a variety of reasons. A speed dealer and his junkies had been moved on. Word had been put out about that to make it clear that the protest itself was to remain within legal bounds. There was a table with food where the community’s meals were served, and various members routinely made sweeps for trash. Decisions were being made by consensus through a general assembly Liberty City had itself set up.

Not long after I arrived, one of the protesters who had oriented me offered me a tarp for the ground, and then after some thought, my own tent for the night. He said he’d feel better about my safety in a tent. I told him I appreciated the offer, but then after some conversation and thought, that I used to sleep in a bivouac when camping and so felt content on the ground. After that, someone put on a documentary film and it began to get colder, so I decided to go to bed. Others were turning in as well. I think it might have been 8 or 9 pm. I had left my cell phone at home. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Homeless man arrested after Berkeley bank robbery

Union Bank was robbed Tuesday. Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley police officers recovered the cash after arresting a homeless man they said was responsible for robbing a bank late Tuesday morning.

According to police, Barrett Brown was not armed but instead used a note to demand money from a teller at the downtown Berkeley Union Bank located at 2333 Shattuck Ave., at Durant Avenue.

Police described Brown, who is 35, as transient.

Bank staff called in the robbery report to police dispatchers at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, said Lt. Jennifer Louis, dayshift watch commander. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley homeless encampment at Old City Hall packs up under city orders

Dismantling Liberty camp on Friday Dec. 4. Photo Jay Rooney
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Update: Three arrests were made while the encampment was packing up, according to Berkeley city spokesman Matthai Chakko. Chakko said he expected all three to be cited and released today.

Three truck-loads of belongings associated with the camp were removed by the city, he said, and services were offered to the campers.

Campers were told where they could collect their belongings, Chakko said. City workers arrived at the camp at 7:30 a.m. and the camp was all cleared out by 10:30 a.m.

By noon the city had erected a temporary fence around the space where the encampment had been. A sign on the fence reads: “Lawn are under renovation. Please keep out. Thanks for your patience. City of Berkeley Parks.”

According to Ted Friedman who was on scene, some of the campers have moved across the street to Civic Center Park.

View a gallery of photos of the eviction taken by Ted Friedman.Continue reading »

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Crime

Police make arrest after homeless camp stabbing

Residents of a homeless encampment remain on the grounds of Old City Hall in what they say is a protest of new laws passed this week by the City Council. Photo: David Yee
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Berkeley police responded to a stabbing at the recently established Old City Hall homeless encampment and arrested a man late Thursday morning.

According to a post on the “First they came for the homeless” Facebook page, which has been documenting happenings and efforts at the camp, “Shortly before noon, one of the protesters was stabbed in the leg.… The incident occurred with no warning, and no provocation. The occupation rose up and quickly surrounded the man with the knife.”

The post, published at 12:15 p.m., continued: “They announced a citizens arrest. The man grabbed a stick and started attacking. We grabbed sticks, and without hitting him, defended themselves. The police, whose station is 100 feet away, took 5 minutes to respond.”

According to the post, the stabbing victim is in the hospital and police arrested the alleged assailant. The Berkeley Police Department was not able to respond to a request for information prior to publication. … Continue reading »

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Homeless man arrested after daytime robbery, attempted rape of UC Berkeley student

Image: Google Maps
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Police arrested a 51-year-old homeless man after the robbery and attempted rape of a UC Berkeley student Monday, authorities said.

The incident took place at 11:30 a.m., said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, when the female Cal student was walking near Arch and Virginia streets, not far from the northern border of campus.

Coats said the man, later identified as Wilfred Allen, “approached the victim from behind and pushed her off a public walkway into a secluded grassy area. The suspect pinned the victim on the ground and when the victim attempted to scream he covered her mouth and attempted to sexually assault her.”Continue reading »

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Berkeley council enacts street behavior regulations

Protesters fighting new ordinances related to street behavior marched to Tuesday night's council meeting and rallied. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Tuesday night’s council meeting ended abruptly with a split vote to adopt new laws proponents say will help clean up Berkeley streets and provide storage and improved restroom facilities for the homeless.

Opponents of the laws say they will criminalize the homeless and have been protesting their adoption after a preliminary vote in November. About 30 people marched from Old City Hall to Tuesday’s council meeting at Longfellow Middle School to oppose the laws. They first rallied at Liberty City, an encampment that has drawn dozens to Old City Hall in recent weeks to protest the new measures.

Three council members did not respond when asked to vote, in an apparent act of protest, amidst disruptions from the crowd and several attempts by two officials to change the order of the meeting agenda as the night wore on.

Read more coverage of homelessness in Berkeley.

Vice Mayor Linda Maio ran the meeting because Mayor Tom Bates could only attend by telephone due to a recent injury. Maio said the new laws will increase access to public restrooms and create new secured storage facilities for the homeless. She said warnings will be issued prior to any tickets, and that none of the rules related to the storage of personal items in public space will go into effect until the city has storage units to offer.

“They can still sit and they can still sleep,” she said. About the new rules, she added, “There has been so much misinformation about what they are.”Continue reading »

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Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on affordable housing, PRC protest report, homeless services, protest march

2020 Vision Symposium, Oct. 11, Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At its Dec. 1 meeting, the Berkeley City Council is set to kick off with a special 5:30 p.m. session on affordable housing, followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. The action calendar includes two appeals related to a Durant Avenue housing project, a look at the Police Review Commission’s report about last December’s protests, and a proposal from Councilman Jesse Arreguín to expand the city’s services for the homeless. The meeting is set to take place in the Longfellow Middle School auditorium, at 1500 Derby St. Scroll down to see the highlights and learn how to follow along. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley orders new homeless tent city to disband

About 50 people have set up tents on the front lawn of Old City Hall to protest news homeless laws passed by the Berkeley City Council last week. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The city of Berkeley issued a cease and desist order Tuesday to residents of an encampment that popped up at Old City Hall on Nov. 16 in reaction to new homeless laws the city is seeking to enact.

The memo, distributed by police to about 50 people living in the approximately 22 tents on the front lawn, cites that penal code section 647(e) prohibits anyone from lodging on public property without permission of the property owner. The offense is a misdemeanor.

“Lodging on the property of 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way is not permitted,” reads the order. “Please take this opportunity to immediately collect your belongings and leave this location.”

But the order seems to have been met with a big yawn by those camping out, many of whom identified themselves as homeless or advocates for the homeless.

“It’s not an encampment, it’s a protest,” said a 29-year-old woman who identified herself as Musik Street Ninja. She said she is from Berkeley but currently has a room in which to sleep in Antioch. “We are protesting the bullshit homeless laws they are trying to pass.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: An open letter to Berkeley on homelessness: You are being scammed by the City Council

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Do storage lockers magically appear on Tom Bates’ order? Do angels from on high descend with public restrooms on Linda Maio’s wish? Is it common for shower facilities to construct themselves from piping and tile without human intervention?

If you answered “yes” to these questions then you’ve entered the mindset of the Berkeley City Council majority — who last week voted to criminalize homeless people’s behavior while invoking the humanitarian fairy to do what they claim they want to … Continue reading »

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