Looking back over the past year it is important to us to focus on all we have accomplished and the people that we have helped. Seeing the impact in our client’s lives has been a silver lining in an otherwise difficult time.
Since the start of the pandemic, our free weekday community meal has moved from a sit-down indoor event located at Lutheran Church of the Cross, to a to-go style meal which we hand out outside of our Dwight Way Center in Berkeley. We have expanded to serving five days per week and are handing out one hot meal and one bag lunch to each guest.
In June 2020 we opened the Berkeley Respite program which consists of 18 RV trailers and one shared house. Since the program opened we have been working hard to move clients on to permanent housing, including, most recently, client E.H. who will be transitioning to our Shelter + Care program where he will receive ongoing tenancy support services to help him maintain his housing.
Our Safer Ground program opened in July 2020 as 69 rooms in two Berkeley motels. At the end of 2020 we had to shut down services at one of the motels, but we are happy to report that thanks to strong partnerships with Alameda County, the City of Berkeley, and other local service providers, all clients have a housing plan, and no one is going back to the streets. One of the households we have placed into permanent housing is R.W. with her adult daughter and 3 school-aged grandchildren. They joined the Safer Ground program in August 2020, and in February 2021, they all moved into their new 5-bedroom house in Berkeley with the assistance of a Berkeley Non-elderly Disabled (NED) housing voucher.
As of the end of February, we have housed 46 households just from these two programs. One thing the COVID-19 response has taught us is that when we all come together and treat homelessness as the urgent crisis it is, we can move more people off the streets quickly and efficiently.