Berkeley’s largest, 100% affordable housing project is taking shape, and city leaders, architects and social service workers toured the building this week in advance of its scheduled opening next spring.
The project at 2012 Berkeley Way broke ground in July 2020 after the culmination of nearly two decades of conversation, planning, obstacles and finally, approval. It’s on track to open in May 2022 and a general lottery for rooms will open about six months prior, but high-needs individuals who are on the by-name list — a roster the city keeps of people who are homeless — will be prioritized.
Berkeley Food & Housing Project’s (BFHP) and Bridge Housing are operating two related projects at the same site. BFHP’s Hope Center will have 53 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and disabled men and women, 32 shelter beds for homeless men and 12 transitional housing beds for homeless male veterans. There will be showers, hot meals and services daily.
Bridge Housing’s Berkeley Way will offer 89 apartments for low- and very low-income-families, in addition to laundry facilities, play areas for children and additional on-site services and amenities, like an edible herb garden.
Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Councilmember Kate Harrison (who oversees the downtown district for 2012 Berkeley Way), team members with Bridge Housing, BFHP, investors and workers toured the bones of the building Wednesday in hard hats and vests, envisioning what the large project will look like upon completion in May 2022.
Arreguín envisions the project as a “ladder” into permanent housing for those who visit the shelter and housing hub for services. He said the two-decade timeline of the project illustrates the challenges required to end the dual homelessness and housing crises in the Bay Area.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We do not believe that living in shelters is the solution to homelessness — that housing is the solution to homelessness,” Arreguín said, noting ongoing partnerships with the state, federal government, the city and development partners for 2012 Berkeley Way. “In Berkeley, we are investing in a variety of different solutions, to not just address the street impacts of homelessness but to provide solutions in ending people’s homelessness.”