Berkeley City Council to Consider Four Different Plans to Tackle Homelessness Crisis 

Mayor's plan to address homelessness in Berkeley includes options for temporary relief as well as connections to permanent housing.

click to enlarge A homeless encampment on the Berkeley-Oakland border. - PHOTO BY HAYDEN BRITTON
  • Photo By Hayden Britton
  • A homeless encampment on the Berkeley-Oakland border.

On Tuesday, Berkeley city council will select one of four options offered under Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s plan to address homelessness. Called the Pathways Project, here's a rundown of the various options:
  • The first option proposes the creation of an "encampment resolution team" and a STAIR center, the latter providing emergency temporary shelter and beds. The team would direct homeless residents to the center, which would have 75 beds where people can stay for up to two months.

    This plan includes nothing to help people connect with permanent housing.

    In the first year, this option would cost the city approximately $2.4 million, followed by $2.1 million every year afterward.
  • The second option proposes the creation of a "Bridge Living Community," where individuals can stay for four to six months, and a "Homeward Bound" program, which will connect “high priority” individuals to permanent housing. This plan offers no immediate relief for unsheltered people.

    This plan provides 80 beds, in the form of ten tent cabins that house eight each, but only for those who are pre-determined as having "high needs."

    The Homeward Bound program connects homeless people with friends or family that are offering living space. The city would pay a one-time fee for travel costs for these individuals. In total, this option estimates to be able to house 100 to 120 homeless people per year.

    Together, these programs would cost $2.6 million in the first year and $2.4 million annually thereafter.

  • The third option is an amalgamation of the first two, adopting all four programs. This plan, although addressing both the need for temporary relief and longer-term connections to permanent housing, would cost the city $4.8 million in the first year and $4.3 million each year afterward.

  • The fourth option, developed just this past week by Arreguin and Councilmember Sophie Hahn, proposes a “hybrid invention,” which would make use of a combined STAIR Center and Bridge Living Community, with a Homeward Bound “component.” Hahn and Arreguin view this option as the more affordable solution, costing approximately $2.8 million in the first year and $2.6 million in the following years.

    In addition to the 80 beds provided by the Bridge Living Community, twenty STAIR Center beds would be built — instead of the previously proposed 75 — and approximately 100 Homeward Bound travel vouchers, but no program staff.

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