BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – No matter how often this homeless encampment along Interstate 80 in Berkeley is cleared out, the homeless keep returning.
The encampment near the University Avenue freeway exit seems to get larger.
Homeless advocates say removal is a temporary solution — Finding the people living in these situations permanent housing is the best path ahead.
“I think that with this new funding coming forward, it will also be instrumental in, you know, creating real change and bringing new solutions to the table,” Calleene Egan said.
Calleene Egan is executive director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, a non-profit agency providing outreach services to people living on the streets.
She supports Governor Gavin Newsom’s $12-billion package to confront the homelessness crisis.
“This could really put a dent in how many people are currently facing homelessness, not only to Berkeley or the Bay Area but to the state as well,” Egan said.
Egan says homelessness has been magnified during the pandemic.
“It’s fair to say it’s worsened everywhere. I mean, I think everyone has been affected in some way or another, and it’s definitely heightened. We have seen more people experiencing homelessness since the start of the pandemic,” Egan said.
She says her group has also learned that quick action can lead to positive results.
Simple things like extending operational hours at shelters and making trailers available to people for safe living spaces make a difference.
In the past year, Egan’s agency has also worked with the city of Berkeley and Alameda County to open two hotels up to homeless people for transitional housing.
One of those hotels is still housing those individuals.
“I do see change, and I’m very optimistic,” Egan said.
Optimistic that help is truly on the way.