Everyone in our community deserves a decent home.
Like other urban areas, Berkeley has been struggling with homelessness since the early 1980s, when the Reagan administration slashed federal funding for public and affordable housing. With the current tech boom and rising rents, the situation in Berkeley has only gotten worse: we’ve gone from about 700 homeless individuals in 2009 to about 1,000 homeless people in 2017, according to the Point in Time Count. With homelessness disproportionately impacting people of color, our outreach and support of this population is a matter of racial justice.
The forces that push people into homelessness vary, ranging from financial hardship--such as rising rent or a job loss that leads to an eviction--to domestic violence, health crises, mental health issues, and/or drug and alcohol abuse. We need an immediate plan to address the crisis unfolding on our streets as well as a long-term vision for ending homelessness.
As your Councilmember, I will work to provide immediate housing options for the homeless as well as advocate for long-term solutions, such as partnering with neighboring cities and seeking more resources from the state (and eventually, from the federal government) for permanent supportive housing.
Address the Immediate Crisis Unfolding on Our Streets
We are a compassionate community, and we must never resort to criminalizing the condition of homelessness. However, we must intervene when encampments pose health and safety concerns or when problematic street behavior threatens the ability of other residents to access public spaces or for small business owners to earn a living. We have to provide better options for those who are homeless on our streets.
If elected to City Council, I propose to use affordable housing bond funding and public-private partnerships to create microunits (or tiny homes) with low barriers to entry. I am committed to housing everyone who is from Berkeley and who is willing to seek our help, particularly transitional-age youth, families, and veterans.
We also need to stop homelessness before it starts by structuring our services so that we can respond quickly to a crisis and prevent someone from losing their home. For instance, we can harness the generosity and expertise of our community by establishing a regular Community Day of Service, in which volunteers, nonprofits, and government agencies can provide resources and services to individuals experiencing (or at risk of experiencing) homelessness - similar to Project Homeless Connect in San Francisco. These services can include: dental and vision care, housing information, medical care, mental health and addiction services, SSI benefits, legal advice, employment counseling/job placement services, and more.
Partner with Neighboring Cities to Create a Regional Homelessness Plan
Berkeley can’t solve the regional homelessness crisis alone. We need to partner with neighboring cities--Oakland, Emeryville, El Cerrito, and Albany—as well as the county to share best practices, align approaches, and better coordinate the allocation of scarce resources for shelter beds and mental health services.
If elected to City Council, I will lead the effort to create a regional homelessness task force that will be charged with deepening collaboration.
Fight for More Resources for Permanent Supportive Housing
We must never lose sight of our long-term vision of eradicating homelessness. Research has proven that supportive housing--that is, non-time-limited low-barrier affordable housing with supportive services--is a cost-effective solution for those who are chronically homeless.
I am committed to the long-term goal of working with our state and federal elected officials to advocate for the resources to create more permanent supportive housing in the Bay Area.