Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter moves to new location; to open in early October

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The Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter, or BESS, will be moving to a new — but not permanent — long-term location at 1931 Center St., according to David Stegman, the executive director of Dorothy Day House, which runs the shelter.

BESS will move to its new location in early October, depending on certain “improvements” currently being made by the city. The date remains unconfirmed.

“The City Manager will be making a statement about a long-term location at tonight’s council meeting – near the beginning in the time alloted for ‘City Manager Comments,’ ” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko in an email.

According to Stegman, the new Multi-Agency Service Center, or MASC, will fit 80 people and have a commercial kitchen and showers — amenities lacking at the current temporary location. The MASC is inside the Veterans Memorial Building on Center Street.

Daniel Burk, who works as a shelter monitor at the temporary location, is excited about the new location.

“I think it’s great,” Burk said. “Of all the spaces that were put forward as candidates for our long-term location, I’d say it was the most suitable. It has a lot of facilities that we were not allowed to provide our guests before. It has a full kitchen, which I’m excited about, being a chef by trade.”

BESS, which has been only a seasonal shelter in previous years, was located at the former Premier Cru building on University Avenue and Ninth Street from Dec. 27, 2017 through Aug. 31.

The City Council, however, has faced pressure from homeless community members and advocates to open a shelter year-round. The city, however, faced challenges in its attempts to find a permanent location. After the Ninth Street location closed, the shelter first moved to the North Berkeley Senior Center until Sept. 15, and then moved to Frances Albrier Community Center.

“(BESS is) at the community center until Sunday, and then the plan is to move it to the Multi-Service Center at the Veterans Center on Center Street,” Stegman said. “The men’s shelter, who has been (at that location), is moving out so that we can move in and start on Monday. This has been in the works for quite some time.”

The Men’s Overnight Shelter, or MOS, which previously occupied the building, will be moving to 2140 Dwight Way. MOS will share the building with the North County Women’s Shelter and a program for homeless veterans, according to Stegman.

Alexandra Stassinopoulos covers schools and communities. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.