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Berkeley Might Sanction a Homeless Tent Camp

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By Nicholas Palmer

The city of Berkeley is desperate to find shelter for homeless residents. During the Tuesday City Council meeting, members voted 7-0 to set up an “emergency shelter,” floating the idea of a 120-tent homeless camp under University Avenue bridge at Fourth Street.

The city has made some headway in permanent affordable housing and the services offered to individuals in need, but the fixes have not come fast enough to address the entirety of the homeless population there. Nothing makes that quite as obvious as the consideration of a potential city-sanctioned tent camp.

City Councilmember Kate Harrison says there are about 1,100 homeless individuals within the city, 813 of which who are unsheltered, according to the latest count.

Harrison said Tuesday:

“We are still unable to serve all homeless people in Berkeley simultaneously and there are still gaps in service.”

Camps are often “swept” out when established by homeless people themselves, with city departments citing sanitation or fire hazard issues. Berkeley’s plan goes against recent municipal wisdom, but the camp they’re proposing as a “temporary fix” would offer sanitation services and would likely be managed much like homeless shed villages, with a set of rules and administration of services.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero/Unsplash.

The location of the proposed “shelter” is still to be finalized — the council asked City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to look into alternative places accessible by public transit and develop a plan of action.   

It’s been suggested that the new shelter area have be able to accommodate approximately 150 people each year be available for 180-day stays, if needed.  

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