This is a chronological history of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, which has roots in Berkeley, dating back to 1970
1970 University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley Volunteers begin serving a free meal to those in need.
1972 The Meal project was renamed the Berkeley Emergency Life Line.
1984 Began providing emergency shelters with the help of a congregational network of Berkeley churches which hosted the shelter at a different church each month.
1986 The first Board of Directors was formed and the organization incorporated as the Berkeley Emergency Food Project (BEFP).
1986 The City of Berkeley arranges for BEFP to use the Veteran’s Building in Downtown Berkeley for the Men’s Overnight Assistance Center, the first permanent home of the Men’s Shelter.
1991 BEFP obtained the use of the historic 2140 Dwight Way building for the first permanent home of its women’s and children’s emergency shelter.
1992 Transitional House opens in the Dwight Way building, providing 10 severely mentally ill and formerly homeless women with 24-month supportive transitional housing and intensive case management assisting these women to prepare for and obtain permanent supportive housing.
1996 Passage of Measure O, an anti-panhandling legislation requiring the creation of day-time drop-in and resource counseling services for homeless persons, which established a funding stream for homeless providers to provide these services. BEFP opened the Multi Service Center at Trinity United Methodist Church to provide daytime respite and resource counseling services as well as case management and money management.
2000 An extensive renovation project is completed at Dwight Way, adding a Third Floor and allowing for expanded women and children’s services, including 14 beds in Transitional House, development of the North County Women’s Center and a second, 6-month Transitional housing program for homeless women motivated to take the necessary steps to move from homelessness into permanent housing is established at Dwight Way.
2001 The back yard at Dwight Way becomes a beautiful children’s playground and courtyard.
The Russell Street Residence, a 17 person permanent housing facility for chronically homeless, mentally ill men and women officially opens its doors, accepting referrals from Berkeley Mental Health’s AB2034 program in February. The RSR Annex, an independent living house for four mentally ill adult men and women begins accepting referrals in April, 2002.
The Board of Directors officially and legally changes the organization’s name to Berkeley Food and Housing Project, reflecting the agency’s growth and maturation into an organization whose mission is to alleviate and resolve homelessness for men, women and children in Berkeley and which provides a full range of services to meet the diverse needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
2006 A task force is created to explore and develop the creation of Project H.O.P.E., BFHP’s vision to develop a case management and housing center in Berkeley providing shelter and case management services and over 50 units of supportive and independent permanent housing.
2008 The Housing Case Management Team was developed to enhance the capacity of BFHP case managers to assist clients from all our programs to obtain and maintain permanent housing. The team was developed to advance the BFHP Mission to “ease and end the crisis of homelessness,” and to more effectively provide the crucial housing services necessary to achieve this goal.
It consists of case managers from six of our programs working together as one team to prepare clients for housing readiness and locate suitable housing in the greater Berkeley area. This new initiative has had instant and remarkable success. In our program year ending June 30, 2009, we assisted 197 men, women and families in obtaining a permanent home, our highest one-year total ever.
2008 A grant from the Cisco Foundation made it possible to hire a part-time Health Care Coordinator. This position added a tremendous resource and capacity to the case management team. One key role of the coordinator is to identify needed health care services required by our clients and develop partnership linkages with community health care organizations to bring these services on site, and/or make it possible for our clients to more easily and efficiently access these services.
2009 Established the centralized Shelter Reservation System, including emergency beds, in collaboration with City of Berkeley. This program brought about some significant changes to the current shelter referral system.
2010 Collaborative pilot project to work with re-entry population established.
2010 The Board of Directors sets its first priority as the strategic initiative to acquire land and build a supportive housing program for homeless men in Berkeley.
2010 BFHP celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
2012 BFHP awarded prestigious Branding and Key Messaging grant from the Taproot Foundation, begins year-long revision of key messaging, name and visual identity.
2013 BFHP receives $1 million dollar award from the SSVF (Support Services for Veterans Families), a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. BFHP will work with Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (ABHI) to provide homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing services to 200 homeless and imminently homeless veteran households in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano Counties. (Read press release here)