Berkeley Homeless Fund receives $230K in donations for homeless community

A wooden bench in front of a portable building.
Peter Radu/Courtesy

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Created in October 2017, the Berkeley Homeless Fund has attracted $230,000 in donations and has helped fund several projects for the homeless community, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

According to Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Berkeley City Council voted to set up the Berkeley Homeless Fund as a way to accept private donations for major initiatives that aid the homeless community. The funds have been critical in launching and operating the STAIR Center, a navigation center which opened last summer at Second and Cedar streets.

Arreguín and City Councilmember Sophie Hahn modeled the STAIR Center after the navigation centers of San Francisco, after examining how other cities addressed the needs of their homeless communities. Unlike other shelters, the STAIR Center provides 24/7 service to the community with the goal of working with clients to find permanent housing. Forty-five people have found stable housing since its opening seven months ago, according to Arreguín.

According to Arreguín, since the center’s creation, it has doubled the number of shelter beds available and added outreach workers, storage and sanitary facilities. The success stories from the STAIR Center demonstrated the city’s commitment to the homeless community and led to the “overwhelming passage” of Measure P, a tax increase to support homeless housing services.

“We will be able to combine funds from Measure P and other various sources to expand our efforts to address homelessness,” Arreguín said in an email. “That being said we will need to significantly increase. Berkeley is a compassionate City, and as long as homelessness continues to be a crisis, I am certain people will continue to contribute towards the Fund.”

According to Berkeleyside, about $100,000 in donations from businesses and individuals contributed to the launch of the STAIR Center. Trachtenberg Architects, owned by David Trachtenberg, donated $14,500 to provide the center with building design expertise, and Garden Architecture, run by Robert Trachtenberg, donated $22,500 in landscaping services.

Other developers that have donated include Jamestown, R&S Investments and Wareham Development, according to Berkeleyside.

“The STAIR Center is making life-changing resources accessible to some of the most vulnerable members of the Berkeley community,” said Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, in an email. “We are proud to support this important mission and are thankful for our neighbors Denny Abrams and Mayor Arreguín who helped make this a reality.

According to Hahn, the fund also contributed to the Hub, Berkeley’s coordinated entry system, which has rehoused more than 100 homeless individuals.

“We are moving Berkeley towards a “Housing First” model that emphasizes getting people on to a path towards housing, as well as providing immediate shelter to as many as we can,” Hahn said in an email. “We have extended our Winter Shelters, and much more. Again, these monies are joined with other funds that make our newly enhanced homeless services possible.”

Contact Jenny Weng at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999.