The city of Berkeley has doubled its capacity for emergency storm shelter beds this week, following a council directive to get more homeless individuals indoors, and will make those beds available through Monday night in light of current weather conditions.
Occupants of a protest camp outside the city of Berkeley’s homeless services intake center in South Berkeley this week criticized the way the city is allocating aid to people on the streets.
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.
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.
It used to be that those who were homeless in Berkeley had to navigate a complex tangle of services to try to find help. In January, the city launched what it hopes will be a coordinated, collaborative system designed to provide permanent housing to those who need it most and collect data to create a better overall picture of who is seeking aid in the city.
More than 100 people filled the ballroom at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza in downtown Berkeley on June 2 to show their support for 20 young Bay Area people, who, in spite of high odds, have managed to succeed in different areas of life. The third annual Rising Stars Youth Leadership gala, hosted by the Berkeley-based Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), was filled with stories of triumph, including overcoming homelessness, criminal justice issues and difficult family backgrounds.
On Tuesday the Berkeley City Council was presented with a report from the Homeless Task Force, with recommendations for action to address homelessness in the city. Leaving aside the likelihood or unlikelihood of any of the recommendations passing, for a Task Force whose self-stated goal is “ending homelessness in our city”, the report is notable for a lack of urgency on the core issue: HOUSING.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates was quoted on Channel 7 News as saying, “It’s not an effort to criminalize people, it’s an effort to try to make things more civil.”
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.
BAY AREA BOOK FESTIVAL Downtown Berkeley will be overrun by books, authors and readers this weekend when the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival comes to town. The free event spans several blocks, and sections of Allston Way, Milvia Street, Addison Street, and Kittredge Street will be closed to traffic from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The areas usually filled by cars will be occupied instead by booksellers, storytellers, artists, art installations, and more. Dozens of panels, with themes of culture, poetry, technology, and more, will be held in indoor spaces around the Downtown area throughout the day (don’t miss the Berkeleyside Uncharted panels with authors Wallace J. Nichols, Ben Parr, and Design Within Reach founder Rob Forbes, moderated by Berkeleyside publisher Lance Knobel and American Oz: Berkeley and the Bay Area, moderated by Berkeleyside executive editor Frances Dinkelspiel). The stretch of Allston Way in front of Berkeley High School will be home to a food court and beer and wine garden. (On Saturday, the weekly Berkeley Farmer’s Market will be in its usual spot on Center between MLK and Milvia.) On Sunday evening, the band The Deadliners (composed entirely of authors) will play starting at 5:30 p.m. in Civic Center Park. To top it all off, on Saturday at 7 p.m. bestselling author Judy Blume will be speaking about her new adult book, In the Unlikely Event and about her experiences as a censored author. For more information, visit the Bay Area Book Festival website. (Berkeleyside Uncharted is one of the festival’s three main media sponsors.) (more…)
The city of Berkeley says it will change its commission recommendation process after a community agency brought allegations of serious conflicts of interest during a recent bid for municipal funding.