City of Berkeley to provide storage lockers for homeless individuals

Kavya Narendra Babu/Staff

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Homeless individuals in Berkeley will soon be able to store their belongings in 58 storage lockers located at 1931 Center St.

The service is a collaboration between the city of Berkeley and Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, or BOSS, where the lockers will be located. The locker program was included in Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s budget proposed in December 2017, said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. Chakko added that Berkeley City Council approved a contract with BOSS on July 24 and agreed to allocate $50,000 to fund the program.

The city hopes to launch the program within the next couple of months, Chakko said. Sonja Fitz, director of development and marketing at BOSS, said the lockers are not yet accessible because of contract and refurbishing concerns.

“We are still negotiating the contract with the city of Berkeley and arranging for (the lockers) to be cleaned,” Fitz said. “The lockers are not ready to open yet.”

The city will maintain the lockers, and BOSS will provide access and security, according to Berkeleyside.

According to Chakko, the lockers, which are 10 inches wide, 2 feet deep and 3 feet tall, will operate on a first-come, first-served basis, with no payment necessary. Lockers left unattended for more than 31 days will be subject to reassignment, he said.

Homeless activist Guy “Mike” Lee expressed concerns about the lockers. He said in an email that they could give rise to theft and could be detrimental to the homeless population.

Chakko said this will not be the first time the city has provided storage space for Berkeley’s homeless population. City Council funded a similar program more than a decade ago that provided 96 storage lockers for homeless individuals at the Berkeley Veterans Memorial Building.

“For people who don’t have housing or secure places to live, this gives them a secure place to store their items,” Chakko said.

Andreana Chou covers student life. Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.