The challenge of our time, by Mayor Jesse Arreguín
One of the great challenges of our time is addressing the humanitarian crisis of homelessness. While homelessness has existed for decades with the rise beginning in the early 1980s after deep federal cuts to public housing, the Great Recession, the skyrocketing cost of living in recent years, and the economic fallout caused by COVID-19 has created an emergency, with more people losing their housing and experiencing homelessness than ever before. I believe we have a moral imperative to address this crisis and lift people up out of poverty into economic security. Our goal must continue to be to END homelessness once and for all.
Finding solutions is a complex and tedious effort that requires in depth knowledge of social services, housing, and mental health. The City’s response to this is multifaceted, but the reality is we cannot do this alone. That is where Dorothy Day House comes in. Having served the Berkeley community for over 30 years, Dorothy Day House has been a leader in supporting our unhoused community and finding individualized solutions to clients in finding them a permanent home. Starting off by providing daily breakfasts in Southside, Dorothy Day House has greatly expanded its operations in the Berkeley community, operating multiple programs and shelters including the Berkeley Community Resource Center, the Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter, and the newly opened Horizon Transitional Village.
I am incredibly thankful for the partnership between the City and Dorothy Day House. The work that has been done has been necessary in advancing our Housing First goals. With the opening of the Horizon Transitional Village - a major project of the City Council - we can now take steps to transition people out of encampments into a safe and supportive environment. With a capacity of 50 people, each provided with their private tent, and set up in a communal way to support an easy transition from living in encampments, Horizon Transitional Village is an innovative approach to providing compassionate care to our community’s most vulnerable members.
In June 2017, on behalf of the Berkeley City Council, I issued a proclamation to Dorothy Day House for their partnership with the City of Berkeley and its exceptional commitment and responsiveness to serving the homeless population in Berkeley. Over the last four years, Dorothy Day House has continued to go above and beyond their call. When the City has needed to expand its storm or inclement weather shelters, Dorothy Day has responded immediately and provided excellent services to homeless clients and the Berkeley community. The reality is, while there still is a long way to go to solving homelessness, we would be in a significantly worse situation if it was not for the support and compassion provided by Dorothy Day House and the staff and volunteers who make this work possible.
I look forward to continuing working with Dorothy Day House in partnership with the City of Berkeley in the years to come. We know that there is a great need to support the unhoused community and would encourage people who want to get involved to reach out to Dorothy Day House for volunteer opportunities and to donate to Dorothy Day to support their incredible work. Addressing homelessness is an incredible challenge, but by working together, we can make a difference.