Photograph by Talia Cole
In the part of downtown Berkeley near Berkeley High School there visually appears to be less homeless people than there have been in the past few years, meaning that Berkeley is likely reducing the number of homeless people living here. According to an article by Natalie Orenstein, “Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA), a South Berkeley nonprofit arts job-training program, has been working for almost two years to design and build a collection of 25 tiny houses for the homeless.” This means that what I am observing is true: homeless people are being housed.
The director of YSA stated that, “About half the people selected to live in the tiny homes will be YSA youth currently living on the streets or at a shelter such as YEAH on University Avenue.” For students in Berkeley Unified School District who are homeless, this new development will affect them positively. They will have a safe and comfortable place to do their homework, get ready for school, and eat breakfast.
Some people may argue that homelessness is increasing because of the rise of rent and house prices in Berkeley and the Bay Area. Unless gentrification is somehow stopped in its tracks, there isn’t much we can do to avoid this.
Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter, opened as a safe place for homeless people to live in during the winter, is scheduled to close soon.
Unfortunately, the closing of the shelter will increase the number of people living on the streets, or at least those exposed to harmful weather, in Berkeley. In an article by Mary Rees, she quoted a woman saying, “When they close this shelter, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
Homeless people will not have shelter once it is closed, and they will have to resort to living on the streets again. Hopefully, projects like the 25 houses will help people who are homeless have a place to live. There is also more hope for places built for homeless people.
From now on, many people in Berkeley who can’t afford housing will have a better place to live. Little kids who slept in the street will now be in a warm house. Students will also have a safe place to get ready for school, and somewhere to study for a test where lights will be provided.
All in all, this will hopefully lead to a more equitable Berkeley, where more homeless people have access to housing, one of the most basic human needs.