The December 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

The Poor Will Perish Without Housing

We Accuse the US Government

The Works of Mercy: Thoughts on the Death of a Homeless Man

Greed Fuels Oakland Condo Conversion Law

Berkeley Food and Housing Project

Happy Holidays: Berkeley Targets the Homeless

Claire Burch Documents Life on the Streets

St. Joseph the Worker Needs Support

94 Years Old and Still Homeless

Judge Orders Fresno to Uphold U.S. Constitution

Stranded in the Season of Giving

Stories of Street Survival

A Criminal of Poverty

New Media Offensive for Iraq War

Poor Leonard's Almanack on Religion

AIDS & Poverty: A Deadly Link

Mysteries in Our Own Back Yard

December Poetry of the Streets


November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

The Berkeley Food and Housing Project Lends a Helping Hand

by Maureen Hartmann

The man had been homeless for years, according to Annie Perry, supervisor of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project (BFHP) Multi-Service Drop-in Center. He was about to leave the men's shelter, also directed by BFHP in the Veteran's Building on Center Street, after spending 30 days there. That is the usual term limit for occupying a bed, the time given to all shelter residents to get into more stable housing.

"One of the staff just asked him to come back in and stay in the shelter and keep working on it," said Perry. The homeless man had been working in a long and close friendship with one of the staff. He felt he could come to her even when he was not sober and receive a nudge in the right direction. He often came to the BFHP public dinner.

Now, with the extension of his residency in the shelter, the man was given long-term case management (meaning as long as he needed it). He got clean and sober with the help of treatment. He applied for disability and was awarded benefits on condition that he would have a representative payee. The Multi-Service Center became his payee.

At the end of his extension in the shelter, he was able to move into permanent supportive housing. According to Perry, "It is really an example of someone who has come in at the emergency services level, but has used the continuum of services. That's an ideal for us, to go from chronically homeless to permanently housed."

The BFHP Multi-Service Center attempts to provide for all the needs of the homeless and low-income people who come through its doors. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Clients can use the phone to make local business calls, and there is a message board where clients can receive phone messages taken by staff members. Clients can also send and receive mail, and many other practical means of assistance are provided at the Multi-Service Drop-in Center.

One of the clients interviewed, "Bret," said he came to the center for the snacks and coffee and to relax. Another client, Ronald Hooper, said he came for peanut butter and toast and to call his mother and let her know that he was all right.

The Woman's Resource program at the Dwight Women's Shelter provides emergency shelter to women. It also offers a two-year transitional housing program for homeless women with psychiatric disabilities, and a six-month transitional housing program for women and their children.

Perry explained that, altogether, there are eight programs in the four locations of the BFHP. These include the quarter meal served on Monday through Wednesday; it is called "quarter meal" because diners are charged 25 cents, if they can possibly pay. Otherwise, they can help with preparation or cleanup. This allows diners to have the dignity of paying for their own meals.

The BFHP provides emergency, transitional and supportive housing. Perry explains the kinds of transitional housing "One is a six-month program for women and women with children," she said. "It's called Independent House. It's for women who need more than 30 days to take care of whatever's going on so that they can get into permanent housing. It's people generally who are just finishing school or just starting working. They need to save money, maybe clean up some credit issues. There is a two-year program for women who have chronic and severe mental health issues. That's much more of a supportive housing program."

The Russell Street Residence at 1741 Russell Street provides permanent supportive housing for adults with severe psychiatric disabilities.

The Berkeley Food and Housing Project used to be called the Berkeley Emergency Food and Housing Project. But since their shelter programs have increased in number and sophistication to suit the needs of different clients, it is no longer limited to just providing a crisis place to sleep in emergencies.

The BFHP's annual funding of $2,342, 031 comes from foundations, program revenues, federal funds, and funds from the City of Berkeley, County of Alameda, individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Altogether, BFHP's efforts to be part of the solution to the problem of homelessness is very impressive.

To volunteer or donate
Contact: BFHP Development Department at (510) 649-4965, ext. 312 or 315. Mailing address: BFHP, 2140 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.

To get help from BFHP
For a shelter bed, call (510) 619-4976. For the Multi-Service Drop-In Center in Berkeley, go to 2362 Bancroft Way at Dana, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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