Subject: “Frustrated Over Homelessness”
Randy Shaw is absolutely right about the unfortunate role of the federal government, which is to blame for the massive cuts in housing programs. But although I agree that it is important during this election year to pressure candidates to address the issue, I am pessimistic about what the electoral strategy will accomplish.
However, many of us are convinced that we can appreciably dent the homeless problem. Although homelessness is rising at a rapid rate, there are far more empty rooms in the Bay Area than homeless individuals. Whether for reasons of benevolence or self-interest, I am sure that many homeowners and tenants could be persuaded to provide a living space for homeless individuals and families.
This approach is not pie in the sky. In New York City, the nonprofit New York Foundation for Senior Citizens has helped thousands of individuals obtain affordable housing. The organization’s requirement is that one of the individuals, whether a homeowner or a person seeking a place to live, be at least 60 years. To maximize the chances that matching people are successful, its social work staff carefully interviews candidates, and also checks references. Because the organization has proven itself, it now receives funds from the state and private foundations. The organization has a staff of 1200!
Also, a UC student organization, which has received a grant from the UC Berkeley administration, has been finding homes for homeless students.
The Berkeley City Council could play an important role in developing an administrative structure to implement such a program. My advice is that you urge the Council to address this issue. You can reach all members of the Council at the following email address: council@cityof berkeley.info. Those of you who live in other cities should contact your elected officials. Also contact the Alameda and Contra County officials.
Harry BrillFiled under: Letters to the Editor