Federal judge orders Berkeley to submit plan to shelter homeless population

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The city of Berkeley has been ordered to submit and file a plan to house its homeless residents this coming winter.

The court order, written by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, requires the city to submit a plan by Nov. 28 to “substantially” shelter Berkeley’s homeless population. The court is not requiring that the plan be adopted, but it wants to be informed of the scope of relief the city is capable of implementing, according to the order.

The order comes after Alsup ruled Tuesday morning that BART will be allowed to evict the “Here There” homeless encampment in South Berkeley.

Dan Siegel, an attorney representing Berkeley’s homeless community in its lawsuit against BART and the city, must also submit a specific proposal by Nov. 28 to shelter the homeless, according to the order. In his proposal, Siegel must name fields and open spaces he would convert to tent cities.

“Failure to be specific may be a sign that there is no practical solution,” the order stated.

The city of Berkeley is currently reviewing its options, according to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

Chakko said in an email that the city is devoting “significant resources” to address homelessness. Last winter, Berkeley activated its Emergency Operations Center to double shelter capacity. Also, in January 2016, Berkeley established the Hub, a consolidation of homeless services, although the system’s efficiency has drawn criticism from homeless residents.

“Helping our homeless population get housed has been and continues to be a priority,” Chakko said in an email.

Check back for updates.

Harini Shyamsundar is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.