Chloe Verron, who lived in an RV on Second Street in West Berkeley, died early Monday morning, according to her friends and local homeless advocates.
Her neighbors and friends expressed dismay and grief on Tuesday morning, saying they had spent time with her earlier this week doing laundry and hanging out. Several people described her as generous, courageous, smart, and friendly to everyone.
Verron was transgender, and originally from New York, and moved to Berkeley a few years ago to find a safer, more welcoming environment for her transition, according to her friend and local independent journalist Yesica Prado.
Verron lived at the RV encampment on Eighth and Harrison streets from February 2019 to late January 2021, according to Prado. Her RV, which she purchased with a 2020 stimulus check, was impounded on Jan. 20, 2021, and she had to move to the area of Second Street in February after recovering it. She was found there by neighbors on Monday night.
“Chloe dared to be herself,” said Patrick Wayne Ford, who met her when she moved to Berkeley. She always welcomed him when he needed support, even though he’s a “big, burly, Black dude,” he added. “She didn’t have much room, but she made room for me.”
Ford said she was humble, always kept it real, was talented at playing guitar and had a sense of humor that helped him see things from a new perspective.
“Chloe was my she-ro, hero, Chloe was my patna,” Ford said outside her RV on Tuesday afternoon.
The Alameda County coroner’s office hasn’t yet confirmed information about her death, but friends were able to make contact with Verron’s family in New York and they are coordinating planning around her possessions and memorial.
Prado described Verron as “one of the smartest people” she knew, and said she had been taking care of herself, going to appointments with her providers, and in a generally good place lately. Prado said she pushed for Verron to get a spot at the city’s safe parking site in October, but Verron wasn’t able to benefit from the priority for residents at Eighth and Harrison, because she now lived on Second Street.
“Chloe was a shining light in our darkness,” Prado said. “She had a generous heart and touched many of us on the streets. Chloe loved you without judgment, and she always had a smile for you.”
Friends and advocates believe Verron may have died of a drug overdose, but there’s no official confirmation yet. Her neighbor, Floyd Brown, was found dead in early November and the cause of his death has not yet been confirmed either.
Since August, at least seven people have died on the streets in Berkeley. This includes a man who died at the Here, There encampment last week, whose family has not yet been informed, according to the coroner’s office.
Katherine Ellsworth lives a few RVs down from where Verron was found on Monday, and responded to the scene along with several others that night. She said Verron was a beautiful, courageous woman who was always kind and gentle and loved flowers and bouquets. Ellsworth has a community patch called Harmony Garden, and said she’ll continue to tend to the space in Verron’s honor.
“She should be celebrated — she will be loved by many, and I will celebrate her spirit,” Ellsworth said. “My prayers for Chloe are ‘Fly free, be the beautiful, free spirit that you are,’ in whatever form that may be for Chloe.”
This article has been updated with photos of Verron and clarification about the locations and timeline of where she lived.