City Council to discuss rise in Berkeley’s homeless population

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Rachael Garner/Senior Staff

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Berkeley City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss the results of a homeless point-in-time count, which indicate a 53 percent increase in Berkeley’s unsheltered homeless population since 2009.

The survey, organized by the nonprofit organization EveryOne Home and carried out Jan. 28, 2015, was similar to a count made in 2009, with the results — summarized in a report to go before the council — showing not only a 197-person increase in the city’s unsheltered homeless population but a 23 percent increase in the city’s homeless population overall, from 680 to 834 people.

Although the report does not include direct causes of the increase in Berkeley’s homeless population, it states that there is a lack of coordination among homeless services, which prevents the city from allocating its resources as effectively as possible, a sentiment shared by some City Council members.

“Different kinds of people need very different services,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “It needs to be personalized.”

In order to address this issue, earlier this month, the city launched The Hub, a centralized entry system that aims to help the unsheltered homeless population through more streamlined targeting of shelter and housing resources.

As indicated by the count and subsequent report, the city also hopes to improve its level of information about the issue of homelessness.

“Part of what we’re always trying to do is figure out what are better ways to achieve our goals,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

But some members of the homeless community still believe City Council has not done enough to improve its approach to the issue of homelessness. Late last year, members of Berkeley’s homeless community camped out in front of Old City Hall for several weeks in protest of the council’s approval of ordinances regulating the placement of personal belongings on sidewalks, among other street behaviors.

Guy Lee, an advocate for the homeless and a candidate for mayor of Berkeley, said that the city’s current approach is charity-based, which helps individuals in the short term but does little to solve problems in the long term.

Although the survey found that Berkeley’s overall homeless population has gone up since 2009, not all subsets of the homeless population have increased. The number of homeless veterans, for example, has decreased by 40 percent, according to the report.

After reviewing the report Tuesday, the council will next take steps to alleviate homelessness during budget discussions in June, according to Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

“What this survey illustrates is that despite all that we do, there’s still a lot more that can be done,” Arreguin said. “This year is going to be a really critical moment for Berkeley in terms of how we can realign our services.”

Contact Maxwell Jenkins-Goetz at [email protected].

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  • lspanker

    Yes indeed let’s sanitize Berkeley of people who work for minimum wage, the homeless, the veteran with a chest full of medels.

    Cut the [email protected], your hyperbole makes you look silly. If you’re so marginal in skills and productivity that you can only earn minimum wage, then you would be far better off in a place with a lower cost of living. It’s a common sense decision, not that common sense factors into anything you do yourself.

    As far as the homeless go, you and the rest of the apologists for the squatter class refuse to acknowledge that very few (if any) of the Berkeley homeless were upstanding natives that one day fell through the cracks through no fault of their own. The vast majority of them were (and are) people with substance abuse and mental illness issues, the majority of the latter whose illness was the result of the former, who had those problems BEFORE they arrived in Berkeley. They didn’t migrate to Berkeley to seek jobs, affordable housing or treatment for their substance abuse or mental illness issues – in fact, most of them are classified as “service-resistant” by local social workers. They simply showed up in Berkeley because of its nation-wide reputation of giving homeless bums more rights and freedoms than local working resident taxpayers.

    Last but not least, I am a military veteran myself who attended and graduated from Cal in the 1990’s, I met and talked with plenty of co-called “homeless veterans” in Berkeley and I can tell you this much – the vast majority of those people are phonies, either people who never served a day in their life, or people who have distorted the details of their own military career to the point that what they tell people bears no resemblance to the truth. I’m all for helping out genuine homeless vets, and in fact donate to various veteran’s groups when I can, but I would rather see my money go to those organization staffed by real former vets who understand veteran issues than people whose perception of the US armed forces is based on watching too many Rambo and Deer Hunter movies…

    Yes indeed let’s get rid of them all so we can live with only people like us. Wouldn’t that be boring.

    I have never demanded OR expected to live in a place where everyone is just like me – far from it. In fact, I generally prefer a reasonably cosmopolitan environment comprised of educated, ambitious and hard working people, not just natives but including (legal) immigrants from all over the globe. What I am not interested in is having to deal with people who have no drive/ambition, no respect for the individual and/or property rights of others, place no value on education or learning, and who feel they are entitled to be supported by the efforts of others. In other words, as with the majority of people in the world, I don’t care to live in a place where the homeless bums have such presence and influence that I have daily encounters with them.

    • Mike lee

      Goodness you’re certainly got anger issues this morning.
      Service resistant? What services are you speaking of? Homeless people appreciate that services are offered but the vast majority don’t help us. This is why we created Liberty City.
      You should come meet what you described as real veterans. I just had coffee with two of them.
      Oh yes people come flocking to Berkeley just for the wonderful services. A sandwich and a kick in the head.
      Yes indeed let’s only let the people we find acceptable live in Berkeley. While we’re at it lets get rid of not only the homeless but all those black people, immigrants, LGBT, those that can’t carry at least a 3.0 GPA, stray dogs, and just funny looking people. Oh let’s get rid of Bongo Burger because in our world McDonalds is where we want to be. Oh let’s get rid of all the people who eat tofu because only real Americans eat meat. While we’re at it lets change the name of the town to Soweto-Belfast. Don’t forget to post signs that list all of the unacceptable people who aren’t allowed to live in your little slice of heaven on earth.

  • If you make berkeley attractive to vagabonds and vagrants with generous welfare offers, of course they will come. No duh sherlock!

    • lspanker

      Mike Lee’s comments here are a prime example of the entitlement mentality that has been instilled in the homeless people in Berkeley.

    • Mike lee

      Let’s say you get of all the reasons you think the great unwashed come here. They would still come. Why? Cal student body. You bring diversity and fun to this community. I love just sitting on telegraph and people watch. It’s a whole lot better then reruns of batman and robin

      • yup lots of naive vulnerable students who arent street wise and are easy targets for armed robbery and assault. I agree, of course they are a prime attraction for vagrants like yourself.

        • Mike lee

          Public safety is a huge concern of mine. One that I’ve addressed as a number one topic.
          Now you assume that I’m a vagrant. That’s like me assuming your a drunk because you are associated with Cal. Now I could embrace the typical perception about Cal Student body that you are all drunks, got a stick up your… and rich. Oh the girls are all hooker cheerleaders who know donkeys in a biblical way. I don’t even start to assume that.
          I find it interesting you can’t tender a cognitive argument but instead resort to calling me a vagrant. I must be a pretty smart vagrant if I’ve confused you to the point of acting like a six year old calling names

          • lspanker

            I find it interesting you can’t tender a cognitive argument but instead resort to calling me a vagrant.

            If you are not a vagrant, kindly tell us what you do for a living. Obviously whatever vocation you have chosen does not provide adequate compensation to afford a place to live, so you are either a lousy negotiator, don’t have the type of skills that make you worth much in the marketplace, or simply are not very bright, none of which suggest that you would be any semblance of a competent or effective mayor.

          • Mike lee

            Well Im 60 years old cant believe Im saying that and retired.
            Ah yes i just love this name calling and assumptions. Actually I’m one of the best negotiators you will run into. In a previous life I had a retail business which unfortunately due to my health had to hand over operations to my nutty partner.
            Trust me I would rather be sitting in my rocking chair then running for Mayor. But things have gotten so off track with people content to make assumptions with no basis in fact or name calling that they cant or wont be pitch an idea of how we solve the problem.
            I stood before city council time and time again trying to be reasonable and watch them skip over things with little or no regard for the consequences. Their solution is toss a couple of dollars out there and blame South Berkeley.
            Cal students aren’t even considered when the topic of housing comes up. Why is that? Maybe just maybe there are those who wish to sit in an arm chair call people names behind the anonymity of their computer screens instead of putting a hand to the plow and help solve the damn problem

          • lspanker

            Well Im 60 years old cant believe Im saying that and retired.

            Retired and homeless at 60? Maybe you retired a bit too soon.

          • Mike lee

            Maybe just maybe I’m to sick to continue

          • lspanker

            The sickness is upstairs, Mikey. As one other Cal grad is known to say: “Liberalism is a mental disorder…”

  • M2000

    How about you stop those “refugees” from coming into Berkeley and take care of your own problems first? Give those “free” hotels to people who actually deserve it.

    • Mike lee

      People are being chased into Berkeley. Wanna get mad at somebody? Go get mad at ed lee

      • lspanker

        Oh, really now. What have you been smoking again?

        • Mike lee

          Well lets see this morning its red river tobacco

  • FabBerkeley

    This is not about homes. The more we, the editors of the Daily Cal and local government keeping calling a problem of alcoholism, drug addiction including meth/crack, coupled with mental illness and violence, vagrancy, etc., a problem that can be solved by just providing a nice place to live – we will continue to provide a solution that does not work. We have had a problem for decades in Berkeley with this community of people. Let’s call it what it is. Then maybe we’ll be on the way to a solution that works. Change the headlines! It may change how we all think and take action around this issue.

    • Mike lee

      I sense a feeling of frustration on your part. I understand that. Your comments do not apply to homeless Cal students or seniors or veterans or the working poor

      • lspanker

        You have described maybe 5 to 10% of the local homeless demographic. Ever consider that the few (yes, few) poor folks genuinely deserving of our help would be far better off if they didn’t have to compete with the druggies, alkies, bums, mental cases, petty criminals and gutter punks that comprise the rest of the homeless in Berkeley?

        • Mike lee

          Damn somebody that really cuts to the core of the problem. There is nothing scientific about the present it just hands out sandwiches to anybody. I on the hand will only extend a hand up to people who want to act responsibly. I will present options to the people you named. Don’t like those? Then pack your bags because as a community our response is no soup for you if you don’t want to behave responsibly

  • ShadrachSmith

    People’s Park has proved that more free stuff = more homeless.

    So if you offer free debit cards, medical marijuana, and freedom from arrest, there is no telling how many freeloaders will show up to urinate on your lamp post :-)

    • Mike lee

      We have more homeless because of government policy. Your comment s don’t apply to homeless Cal students

      • lspanker

        Homeless Call students are a miniscule part of the problem, but for the most part that’s due to Berkeley’s NIMBY-generated antipathy to new housing units, as well as UC’s cowering to fringe kook groups such as the People’s Park agitators and Occupy the Farm, who continue the decades-old effort to stop UC from building needed facilities on its own property.

        • Mike lee

          I appreciate your sentiments. The real kooks are the ones at City Hall who are facilitating a process to build housing that no one can afford. Can you afford to pay $3000 a month for rent? I certainly can’t. So who are they building housing for? It’s certainly not for students even though it’s called student housing. That’s like calling a dog a cat expecting everyone to go along with that tale tall.

          • Pietro Gambadilegno

            If no one could afford that rent, the units would remain vacant. Do you seriously think these units won’t be rented at all?

          • Mike lee

            Actually that’s what is happening in SF. Let’s say if we weren’t talking about rent it was a loaf of bread. Now Walgreen’s charges $3.49 and down the street its a dollar. Now the dollar bread gets bought up. The demand is still there but not the supply. So people are forced to Walgreen’s. The problem with rent is a vast majority can’t afford the higher rents so they have to find creative options

          • lspanker

            Can you afford to pay $3000 a month for rent?

            Irrelevant, because unlike you, I don’t demand to live somewhere where I can’t afford. Ever consider that you wouldn’t be homeless if you relocated yourself to somewhere where there were jobs for which you were qualified, AND you actually held one down?

          • Mike lee

            Well actually I’m to old to work to lazy to steal. So what you are proposing is the same as Capitelli and Arreguin economic apartheid. Oh we don’t like purple people so let’s just price them out that’s not what Berkeley Is about we are about diversity and inclusion

          • lspanker

            Well actually I’m to old to work to lazy to steal.

            My mother and grandparents worked into their 70’s, and were quite proud of the fact that they were able to do so. You and your attitude make a compelling argument to do as little to help the Berkeley homeless as possible.

          • Mike lee

            That’s a grand thing to work into your 70s my health doesn’t allow that. The current system is hand people a sandwich and a pat on the head. Me I’m extending a hand up not a hand out but I demand responsible behavior
            Which do you think is better

          • lspanker

            That’s a grand thing to work into your 70s my health doesn’t allow that.

            Physical or mental disability?

          • Mike lee

            Let’s see I’m crazy as an army of ticks on a hound dog. They need to double crosswalk time or indeed to learn how to crawl faster

  • Mike lee

    As part of the larger discussion which is not included here the current system is broken with no exit strategy. Even the hub at its core has no clue in what its doing. The current system lacks any type of plan at all. I am the only candidate who has diagramed what the system should be. I am also the only one who has a clue how to end homelessness in 10 days. My name is Guy Michael Lee I say to Cal Students I have a plan to prevent you from being homeless. If you find yourself in that state take heart. I’m aware of your situation and will work tirelessly to provide you a hand up not a handout. To the citizens of Berkeley I say we can end homelessness today if we respond as a community. Together we win
    Guy “Mike* Lee
    http://www.oldbumformayor.org

    • ShadrachSmith

      You are the government Berkeley deserves :-)

      • Mike lee

        Thank you. The community deserves better. The community deserves to be able to comment on decisions that impact their lives.
        Wouldn’t it be nice if the Regents next round of fee hikes (trust me they are coming) had students commenting on them? Lawrd forbid that tuition can’t be raised unless a majority of students gave it a thumbs up. Well lookie here. In my world that’s called democracy and fairness

        • ShadrachSmith

          And the rent’s too damn high :-)

          • Mike lee

            Maybe you find yourself in a position where you can pay $3000 a month. Congrats most of us cant

          • lspanker

            Maybe you find yourself in a position where you can pay $3000 a month.

            Maybe he didn’t “find” himself in a position to pay $3K a month, but he worked his butt off to get there. Or maybe he’s like most people who can’t pay $3K a month, but chooses a place to live within his budget. The concept of personal responsibility seems to go right over your head…

          • Mike lee

            Well obviously you are not familiar with my campaign so let me provide you with a snapshot view. I’m all about personal responsibility. One of the features that is the cornerstone of the status quo is it lacks any hint of personal responsibility. A sandwich and a pat on the head. I believe in providing a hand up not a handout. In return for the sandwich the community provides you will ask responsibly by becoming self reliant and self sufficient

          • lspanker

            Well obviously you are not familiar with my campaign

            I have read your comments, and had enough of an exchange with you, here as well as in Berkeleyside, to realize that you’re not a serious candidate for anything other than an availability slot in a mental health intervention program.

    • lspanker

      You’re a professional agitator for whom homelessness is a chosen lifestyle..

      • Mike lee

        Would you really choose to sleep on the sidewalk? A majority of people on fixed incomes certainly don’t. Many will spend the majority of their meager check just to get inside two weeks. Then it’s back on the street. Saying people choose to be homeless is like saying all Cal Students are obnoxious drunks based on the behavior of the few.

        • lspanker

          Would you really choose to sleep on the sidewalk?

          No, but that’s why I have a JOB, and why I choose to live and work (HINT, HINT) in a location where I can afford the local costs of living.

          Many will spend the majority of their meager check just to get inside two weeks.

          Then maybe they should consider moving to an area with a lower cost of living. I traveled out to Reno last week to attend a job interview there. While the overall gross pay would be about the same as my current job in California, there are no state income taxes in Nevada, sales taxes are lower, and so is the cost of living. In fact, I looked at a nice 2 bedroom 1920’s era craftsman house in midtown – well maintained, genuine wood floors, off-street parking, on a nice tree-lined street in a reasonably decent part of town, walking distance to stores, good restaurants and 2 local brewpubs – the owner was asking $1000/month rent. Even with an extra $100/month for heating during the winter (and energy rates in NV are about 2/3 those of CA), it’s a swinging deal. Why don’t you get off your @ss and show some initiative in improving your own circumstances instead of being a parasite?