HOMELESSNESS

We need a regional solution to homelessness.

With over a thousand residents sleeping on our streets, it's clear the status quo isn't working. We need an effective, long-term, regional approach that priotities housing first as a solution to homelessness, with supportive wrap-around services.

We've seen homelessness on the rise over the past several years, as the Bay Area's housing crisis continues to grow. In Berkeley alone, the number of homeless residents has risen 17% from 2015 to 2017, and 43% over the last 8 years. Our unhoused are disproportionately people of color and disadvantaged - 50% are African American, 20% are transition-age youth, and 27% are chronically homeless.

80% of these 1,000 homeless residents were previously housed in Alameda County before becoming homeless.

This is a challenge that Berkeley neither can, nor should, solve on its own. Our neighbors share our values, but many of the smaller cities in our region, like Albany and El Cerrito, lack the resources to effectively provide services to residents who become homeless.

Ben’s Solutions

District 4 needs a representative with an effective approach to solving homelessness.

Policy goals: Working collaboratively and regionally to implement long-term housing-first solutions to homelessness.

How we get there:

  • Develop a regional fund and land trust, with cities throughout Alameda County contributing resources.
  • Work with nonprofit affordable housing developers to create affordable housing for the homeless, located close to transit and services.
  • Collaborate with local and regional nonprofit and city service providers to ensure wrap-around supportive services, including mental health, drug rehabilitation, and job training, on-site at the affordable housing.
  • Develop and deploy navigation centers to help chronically homeless residents get re-established in supportive housing environments.
  • Support expanded access to restrooms, shelters, and warming centers.
  • Pursue additional creative solutions to address homelessness, including micro-units, tiny homes, and public partnerships.
  • Support the creation of affordable housing throughout the community.
  • Deploy strategic approaches for keeping housing affordable, protecting tenants, and preventing homelessness before it begins.
  • Work to keep our public commons clean, safe, and welcoming through effective deployment of outreach, supportive services, and treatment for addiction and other mental health issues.

Why this works: There are a wide range of causes of homelessness, but only one solution: housing. Research from across the country has shown that a housing-first approach, with services and treatment on-site, is the most cost-effective way to move people from the street into stable living environments. It's also a regional problem: Berkeley has neither the land nor finances to effectively address this problem, but we can make meaningful progress by collaborating at a larger scale. We need to prioritize the effective, long-term solutions, while making sure we simultaneously work to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

Got additional suggestions? Let me know here, or email me at ben@bengould.org!