Head of State visits Berkeley and praises new partnership to help homeless – India Education | Latest Education News | World Education News

The head of the state agency tasked with finding solutions to expand affordable housing and help solve homelessness in California stopped by People’s Park on Friday, then the future site of a welcome center and at a Berkeley motel where new partnerships between UC Berkeley, the city, and nonprofits are launching programs to care for the park’s homeless.

The historic 2.8-acre park will close this summer so work can begin on badly needed Berkeley student housing and an open space revitalization project. Last fall, Chancellor Carol Christ promised that construction would not begin at People’s Park until people in tent camps and other people spending the day on campus park grounds were accommodated.

This week, the first 13 of the park’s 43 homeless people who will be living at the Rodeway Inn on University Avenue as part of an 18-month transitional housing program were individually transported with their belongings to the motel by campus staff. in a van. The remaining 30 people will transition, in stages, over the next six weeks.

Lourdes Castro Ramírez, Secretary of the State Agency for Business, Consumer Services, and Housing, ended her trip to Berkeley from Sacramento with a midday outdoor meeting at the motel. There, at a table in the tidy parking lot, with a clear view of where park residents will live and receive support services, she spoke with officials from the City of Berkeley, UC Berkeley and nonprofits Abode Services and Village of Love.

Rooms for 43 people who used to live in People’s Park are ready for occupancy and include a bed, microwave, mini-fridge, TV and bathroom. (UC Berkeley photo by Neil Freese)

Next, he was shown one of the ship-shaped bedrooms – each equipped with a bed, TV, microwave, mini-fridge and bathroom. – or Residence services helps newcomers get settled and assigns them to navigators who will help them find stable, permanent housing and achieve their career, health and other goals.

“There are some really unique approaches and strategies that this collaborative group of people are leading, really on the cutting edge,” Castro Ramírez said. “I look forward to following up, especially as the process begins” and when new People’s Park residents are further along in the program.

Statewide, she added, “encampments are places people call home right now, but they are not dignified and safe places to call home.”

Ruben Lizardo, director of local government and community relations for Berkeley, attended the meeting and said aides were pleased to hear Ramírez say that the $4.7 million grant the city received for the project was one of the largest grants awarded by the state’s $50 million pilot project. Encampment Resolution Grant Program.

The city leases the Rodeway Inn for the program’s first year, paying for motel rooms and Abode services with state grant money. The campus has committed approximately $2.2 million to cover expenses for the remaining six months of the project.

A close-up photo of Kara Carnahan, vice president of programming for Abode Services, the nonprofit that runs the program at the Rodeway Inn in Berkeley for former People's Park residents.  She wears a royal blue jacket with the Abode Services logo on it.

Kara Carnahan is vice president of programming for Abode Services, a Fremont-based nonprofit that helps low-income, homeless people find stable, supportive housing. (UC Berkeley photo by Neil Freese)

Castro Ramírez said the large grant was awarded “because we had the most comprehensive strategy of any other candidate in the state. She was also impressed that the city had a university partner,” Lizardo said. “No one else who applied for a grant had a social worker and had land dedicated to supportive housing and was working with city and nonprofit partners on this pressing issue.

“That’s why she wanted to visit us today: no one else had the partners we have.”

Lizardo thanked the city, especially Peter Radu, Berkeley’s assistant city manager, for “taking the initiative to seek out the money to help us get people out of the park and temporarily house them and include a center day care, as well as non-profit partners with a long history of working with the community.

The Sacred Rest Daytime Drop-in Center will open around June 15, ahead of schedule, in an outdoor space made available by the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, a few blocks from People’s Park, to provide services to people who gather at the park during the day and other people in need in the area, Joey Harrison, executive director of the nonprofit Village of Love, said after Friday’s meeting.

UC Berkeley funded the design, site preparation, and construction of the visitor center. With a $500,000 campus grant over two years and $250,000 from the city, Village of Love will operate Sacred Rest, which will provide light refreshments, help with housing, access health care provided by partner organizations and other services.

Ari Neulight, the campus homeless outreach coordinator, poses for a photo in People's Park.  He wears glasses, jeans, sweatshirt and jacket and holds cellphone.

Ari Neulight, a social worker hired by UC Berkeley to provide outreach to homeless people on campus and in the surrounding community, helps people living at People’s Park transition to the Rodeway Inn. (UC Berkeley photo by Neil Freese)

Berkeley Vice Mayor Kate Harrison, also at the Rodeway Inn meeting, praised the university and city team for recognizing the need for homeless people to bring their belongings and pets companionship – five dogs joined their guardians at the motel this week – and for its focus on “managing people living in the park in a sensitive way; it made me feel better.

“The university doesn’t just throw people’s stuff away and break up their camp. And I saw a man move in with two dogs. If you’re separated from the only companion you have, you won’t want to move inside (the motel).

“UC Berkeley is slowly moving people,” she added, “and they have Ari to help them.”

Harrison was referring to Ari Neulight, the social worker the campus creatively hired in 2017 as the homeless outreach coordinator. Neulight works personally with every People’s Park resident who moves into the Rodeway Inn. Many of them lived 24/7 in the park during the pandemic.

Harrison also said she was delighted to meet members of the Abode Services team who, in their royal blue uniforms, answered questions from state, city and county officials, gave a room tour and spoke enthusiastically about the new residents they are receiving. to know.

Lourdes Castro Ramírez, a member of Governor Newsom's cabinet, greets a member of Abode Services, the nonprofit that runs the program at the Rodeway Inn in Berkeley where people living in People's Park will be living for the coming weeks.  Next to her are Ari Neulight, the campus homeless outreach coordinator, and Joey Harrison, who will run the day center for those at People's Park currently spending their days at the park, which will close. for construction this summer.

Lourdes Castro Ramírez welcomes a member of the Residence Services staff, Epsilon Galloway, to the Rodeway Inn. Next to Galloway is Ari Neulight, the campus homeless outreach coordinator, and to the right of Castro Ramírez is Joey Harrison, who will run the drop-in center for people currently spending their days at home. People’s Park. (UC Berkeley photo by Neil Freese)

Kara Carnahan, vice president of programming for Abode, said people who moved in this week have had a “super smooth” experience so far. Each of them received a personal navigator and three meals delivered daily. Some find companionship outside, near the front door, with their pets and a cup of coffee in the morning.

“This week should be about welcoming and building relationships,” she said, acknowledging that many newcomers are skeptical of the program, but she also hears “a lot of positive things”, as they begin to settle.

As she prepared for the trip back to the State Capitol, Castro Ramírez said she had a better understanding of “UC Berkeley’s commitment, not just in terms of being a partner on paper, but in which the university has a dedicated staff that is integrated with the city and county and church and social services, an integrated team working primarily with a people and community centered approach.

She said she would take the opportunity “to share this approach and this model with other universities that are also affected” by the homelessness crisis.

Other universities in California “are in cities where homelessness is a huge problem,” Lizardo added. “Under Chancellor Christ’s leadership, UC Berkeley is the first university to say that while our responsibility is to educate the state’s students, we are not exempt from taking action to meet the needs of homeless people in our community. The Chancellor said ‘I’m going to work on this’ and delivered on her word, not only with this major effort, but also with the plan she launched for a second housing project at People’s Park.

This project, which will start after the start of the student housing project, includes supportive housing for people who are homeless or on very low incomes. It will be built and operated by Resources for Community Development, a local non-profit housing organization.

Comments are closed.