Berkeley City Council to discuss homelessness, crime data reporting

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Berkeley City Council will address homelessness at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, in addition to discussing city data collection and long-distance busing at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The “1,000 Person Plan to Address Homelessness” will be presented to City Council at the special meeting. This report, which was commissioned by the council in 2017, discusses comprehensive strategies to make Berkeley have a “functional zero” homeless population by 2028.

The report addresses two different plans, one that addresses a homeless population of approximately 1,000 people — based on a Point-in-Time, or PIT, headcount that originally catalyzed the report’s creation — and a plan that would address a population of 2,000 people.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko said the PIT estimate does not reflect everyone who is homeless in Berkeley over the course of the year — a number that is closer to the 2,000 estimate. The PIT count was part of a coordinated effort between Berkeley and other cities within Alameda County to estimate the homeless population while recognizing that members of the population move “fluidly between different cities,” according to Chakko.

“Part of that underscores that homelessness is a reflection of a broken federal and state safety net,” Chakko said. “The best solutions to homelessness are going to be solved at a regional, state and federal level because it’s a population that every city should care about.”

The report recommends four strategic goals for the council to consider and estimates that their implementation for a population of 2,000 people would cost between $31 and $43 million in total, requiring an initial cost of $17 to $21 million in addition to annual funding.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, City Council will also hold a public hearing regarding the possibility of granting FlixBus, Inc. a public franchise agreement. If approved, the franchise agreement would allow FlixBus to operate a stop on campus and provide long-distance bus services to the Berkeley and campus community.

According to a memo from City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley, there is currently limited access to long-distance bus providers in Berkeley. Although operators have stops in Oakland, the only long-distance public transportation in Berkeley is the train station on 2nd Street, which provides Amtrak Capitol Corridor service.

The memo also notes that this is “surprising” because of the large number of campus students from Central and Southern California who could potentially use long-distance public transportation.

The council will also address the possibility of extending a contract with Tyler Technologies Inc., to continue to host Berkeley’s Open Data portal until June 2021. The portal, which is free and open to the public, hosts city-related data sets, including data about 311 cases, police stops and crime incidents.

In addition, the council will also address changes to the Berkeley Police Department’s use of force policy data reporting. The new guidelines will begin to be used after a software update and are anticipated to be released on the city’s Open Data portal.

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