Berkeley Food & Housing Project serves the chronically homeless, many of whom have multiple barriers to finding and keeping housing. In the above chart, we have illustrated just one of the many paths to housing for a BFHP client. Once our Outreach Team makes an initial contact and completes an assessment, we assign a Housing Navigator to work with and accompany that individual on a journey that can involve referrals to other services (such as medical or mental health care), ensuring that their forms of legal identification are valid and up to date, and finding an affordable apartment or other form of housing.
Most BFHP clients have disabilities that prevent them from working and living independently, which qualifies them to receive a voucher that provides rental assistance toward their new home, as well as ongoing case management. A Tenancy Support Case Manager is assigned to assist them with basic life skills and other tasks that can make all the difference in their ability to remain permanently housed, stable, and secure.
The strength of Tenancy Support is that once a client enters the program, both the rental assistance and case management stay with them for life, even if they move to a different home. We currently have 108 clients receiving Tenancy Support services, and we are proud to say that 100% have retained their housing over the last year. This is just one of the ways in which BFHP is able to make a permanent difference in the fight against homelessness.
A Tenancy Support Case Manager can assist with:
- Basic life skills training, such as paying bills and rent on time
- Communicating with landlords and utility providers
- Transporting clients to appointments, such as the doctor
- Working with partner agencies to insure the client is getting consistent care across services
- Providing links to resources for food, education, etc.
Read the stories of some of our Tenancy Support clients.
Jerry is unable to do regular work due to multiple physical disabilities that he describes as “the aftermath from living outside and not being able to take care of yourself.” He first fell into homelessness in the early 90’s when he was struggling with substance abuse. After a short stint in prison he was determined to get his life back on track, and he soon discovered BFHP, where a case manager was able to help him apply for a housing voucher. He is grateful for the help he has received in the program and emphasizes the benefit of being able to give back and help others. “Berkeley Food & Housing helps people who are hurt and hurting. When you help someone, they can start helping others before they are fully healed. I know because that’s what happened to me.”
After fleeing domestic abuse, at the age of 24 Lola found herself homeless and with a new baby. She reached out to one of our partner agencies, Building Futures for Women and Children, which helped her to get into our women’s transitional housing program. During her time in transitional housing our staff helped her to apply for Tenancy Support. In 2010 she and her young daughter were able to move into their very own apartment. Lola now works as a Case Manager herself for another of our partner agencies, and she is going back to school to get her nursing degree. “I am really grateful for my voucher. Housing is so expensive and there are a lot of people living in tents. I am just thankful that I am able to have that assistance while I am going to school and doing all the other stuff.”
Ed struggled with alcohol abuse for decades which inevitably led to his homelessness. His wake-up call came after he was in a serious accident and the doctors told him he needed to have heart surgery. Ed was staying at our Men’s Shelter when staff helped him to apply for the Tenancy Support program. From that point on, he says “Everything started going right, all my counselors were the bomb. I didn’t get nothing but positive input and I just took their suggestions and that’s how I wound up where I am now.” Now settled in his own apartment, he is taking computer classes and hopes to become a substance abuse counselor so that he can help others who have been confronted by similar challenges.