Take a look inside Berkeley’s biggest homeless housing construction project

The housing and services hub at 2012 Berkeley Way is set to open in May 2022.

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.”

Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
Calleene Egan, executive director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, tours Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Kate Harrison and others on the first floor of the building, which will have a community and dining room and industrial kitchen, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
The skeleton of what will become a two-bedroom apartment, for households making 50% and 60% of area median income. Twenty-five percent of those apartments will operate with subsidies from the federal Section 8 program. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
An outdoor terrace on the sixth floor of the building, which will house eight units of permanent supportive housing with showers and kitchenettes, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
Studio apartments will occupy both sides of the hallway on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the building, operated by Bridge Housing, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Councilmember Kate Harrison, BFHP, Bridge Housing, architects and planners look at the view of North Berkeley from the sixth floor 2012 Berkeley Way, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Architects’ rendering of 2012 Berkeley Way in Downtown Berkeley. Credit: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
Architect Vanna Whitney describes the building’s sustainability goals, which include a platinum GreenPoint Rating for multifamily buildings, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmember Kate Harrison outside the Berkeley Way construction, which is taking shape downtown, on Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
A long hallway (currently a skeleton of metal beams) will shoot off into studio apartments on several floors of the building, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Mayor Jesse Arreguín tours the Berkeley Way construction on Sept. 9, 2021.
A team from Bridge Housing and BFHP, along with Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmember Kate Harrison at 2012 Berkeley Way on Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
A sign outside 2012 Berkeley Way that describes the project’s goals, possibly to deter arson. A neighboring building downtown went up in flames in November 2020, and an investigation is still ongoing into the cause, but the fire did not impact 2012 Berkeley Way, Sept. 9, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli
Supriya Yelimeli is Berkeleyside's homelessness and housing reporter. Email: supriya@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: SupriyaYelimeli. Phone: 510-585-8315.