Regional East Bay collaboration necessary for supporting homeless communities

CITY ISSUES: Without the support of multiple municipalities in the region, Berkeley’s recent strides can do little for homeless folks

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The city of Albany’s homeless services website phone number goes straight to the city of Berkeley’s shelter bed hotline.

But what is Albany doing to support its homeless population? Berkeley’s recent support on behalf of its homeless community has been quite impressive, but without regional collaboration and support from other cities, very little can be accomplished.

In the face of the demands and burdens of the growing homeless community in Berkeley, the city seems to finally be stepping up to bat for its homeless communities. City Measure U1 passed by a landslide. The Step Up Housing program passed unanimously, and this first step in Mayor Arreguín’s visionary pathways project charts a strong course.

Berkeley should celebrate this momentum, while remembering it’s taken decades to get here.

The approach to homeless communities elsewhere in the East Bay seems far less friendly. Just down the street, in the so-called “war zone” between Oakland’s homeless community and the rest of the population, city officials have been bulldozing homeless enclaves by force in an effort to clear up “the problem.”

In spite of some flimsy support efforts, Oakland city officials have largely been ignoring and sweeping away the city’s homeless population. It’s nauseating to see Oakland bulldozing homeless encampments instead of passing real reform.

As tech has gentrified the Bay Area, many were getting displaced from San Francisco and began relocating to Oakland. Nowadays, Oaklanders are getting displaced as well.

Many of Berkeley’s current political leaders have said they wanted to work on homelessness as a regional issue, and that Berkeley can’t serve the entire East Bay homeless population on its own. Berkeley and Oakland officials must work together, along with other East Bay municipalities.

Telegraph Avenue runs straight from Berkeley through Oakland. We’re so connected and similar. Berkeley shouldn’t be the only East Bay municipality providing innovative solutions.

Part of the problem, of course, stems from the fact that a lot of financial support for homeless services come from the federal government, and now that Ben Carson is in charge of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, considerable funding has been leeched.

Still, Berkeley can’t be expected to shoulder the weight of providing resources for the entire East Bay.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.