Derrick Coetzee
Thursday’s meeting will provide a starting point for discussion on homelessness, proponents say, with an introduction to the causes and state of homelessness from a national, regional and local perspective. Photo: Derrick Coetzee

Thursday evening, the Berkeley Task Force on Homelessness will begin a new community-driven process designed to explore homelessness in Berkeley, and how it might be addressed thoughtfully and humanely.

Initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín, the task force was created “to continue the much-needed conversation on homelessness after Measure S, which would have banned sitting on commercial sidewalks, narrowly failed last fall,” according to a statement released by Arreguín’s office Wednesday. The task force arose as an alternative way to address homelessness. 

Organizers say task force work will be predicated on public participation, dialogue, and in-depth research and consultation. The ongoing process aims to includes a diverse range of stakeholders, from service providers and advocates to property and business owners, as well as the homeless themselves. The public is highly encouraged to participate and offer their ideas.

“The issues of homelessness are incredibly complex, but we are a smart and compassionate city. With community collaboration and some critical and creative thinking, we can find solutions that make sense and reflect our values,” said Arreguín. “We have to do it right this time around and it starts with understanding homelessness.”

Thursday’s meeting will provide a “starting point” for discussion, said Arreguín, with an introduction to homelessness from national, regional and local perspectives. Panelists from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Alameda County’s EveryOne Home, the city’s Health, Housing and Community Services, and homeless service providers will take part in the panel. The program will also include testimonials from people who are homeless in Berkeley, as well as the results of a survey that set out to learn more about the needs of the homeless.

Speakers include Katharine Gale, of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, to provide a national perspective; Elaine DeColigny of EveryOne Home to discuss the situation in the county; Kristen Lee, of the city’s Housing Department, to describe city policies and services; Patti Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center; and testimonials from Youth Spirit Artworks members. Arreguín will conclude with survey results related to homelessness in Berkeley and next steps.

The meeting will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Berkeley YMCA Teen Center at 2111 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Learn more via the task force webpage.

Berkeley Food and Housing Project wins $1m grant (07.23.13)
Op-Ed: Berkeley needs a year-round youth shelter (05.30.13)
People’s Park focal point for countywide homeless count (02.01.13)
Berkeley moves towards a consensus homeless plan (01.31.13)
After Measure S failure, it’s time to act on homelessness (01.24.13)
Has it gotten harder to be homeless in Berkeley? (01.02.13)
Measure S: Will it help or hurt the homeless? (10.31.12)
Measure S: We can do better with civil sidewalks (09.19.12)
Downtown Berkeley ambassadors help, monitor homeless (07.02.12)
Berkeley sitting ban progresses toward November ballot (06.13.12)
Proposed sidewalk sitting ban prompts debate, protest (06.12.12)
Mayor seeks to put sit-lie ordinance on November ballot (06.01.12)
Police step up patrols on Telegraph to clear sidewalks (05.01.12)
Berkeley students want better stores, fewer street people (05.31.11)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...