Berkeley has come up with extra funds to keep the emergency winter shelter open until May 31, if not longer, Mayor Jesse Arreguín announced Friday. The shelter at 1925 Ninth St. had been scheduled to close on Sunday.
The infusion of money means that the approximately 90 people who have been visiting the shelter each night will not have to scramble to find another place to sleep.
Berkeley will pay Dorothy Day House, which runs BESS, the Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter, approximately $90,000 to remain open for the next six weeks, said Arreguín. Dee Williams-Ridley, the city manager, will submit a recess item to approve the contract, he said. Council will vote on the item in early May and could vote to keep the shelter open longer.
Workers at the shelter planned to tell people about the extension today and to post a flyer with the news said David Stegman, the executive director of Dorothy Day House.
“I want to thank the City Manager and city staff for working quickly with me to make this happen,” Arreguín said in an email. “The shelter has been a very successful initiative and part of Berkeley’s efforts to address our growing homeless crisis.”
Dorothy Day House has run Berkeley’s emergency winter shelter for the past 15 years. This is the first year, however, that the organization has had a quasi-permanent place to run the shelter. In the past, the shelter has been at senior centers and churches, and workers had to set up at night and take the shelter apart in the morning.
Berkeley bought the old Premier Cru property, which houses the shelter, in 2017 with long-term plans to turn it into affordable housing. That has meant that Dorothy Day House had possession of the property, so it could offer storage for people, and have social service agencies come by in the morning to help those without homes.
Update: The City Council found funds to keep the shelter open until June 30.