During the last month our attention was drawn to the devastation of wildfires and the thousands of people who found themselves newly homeless. Closer to home, hazardous air conditions forced many of us to stay indoors, but for our unsheltered neighbors that was impossible. The arrival of rain only begins a new season of cold and damp. Winter – and the holiday season in particular – is an especially hard time for our unhoused neighbors who are without the most basic comforts of home that many of us take for granted.
This is just one reason why our full-time street outreach team is hard at work visiting encampments, parks, underpasses and anywhere that people are living on the streets. They bring necessary items and make connections with the people they meet. They are often accompanied by medical professionals from our partner agencies such as LifeLong Medical or the Berkeley Free Clinic.
“It’s like you’re the resource fairy, always stopping to make sure someone has food, water, socks
or whatever we need to be more comfortable.”
Of Berkeley’s estimated 1,000 homeless men and women, more than 150 are currently in case management with our agency. Having a case manager means having an ally, a friend, and a professional who is working hard to do whatever it takes to remove their barriers to housing. These case managers also regularly accompany our outreach team to connect with their clients who are living unsheltered.
“I’ve come to understand that the most important thing about getting or giving help is really about
acceptance and trust between two people – on both sides of the equation.”
Trust, acceptance, the continuity of a familiar face, and the ability to really listen without judgment are at the core of every human relationship we are able to establish with someone who is struggling to overcome homelessness
“I know that you care and I like that you listen. A lot of people don’t really want to hear our voices.
That’s why it’s so important to know that someone is listening to us.”
The road out of homelessness begins with the many ways our staff work to restore dignity, safety and security to the men and women we serve, whether they are living in our shelters, our permanent supportive housing, or still living on the streets. Please help us continue these vital services by making a generous tax deductible donation this holiday season. By doing your part, you can help us in our work to ease and end the humanitarian crisis of homelessness in our communities.