Sacred Rest Drop-In Center temporarily closed until the end of July

Although Berkeley’s Sacred Rest Drop-In Center for the Homeless is temporarily closed to accommodate summer camp, Village of Love Executive Director and Founder Joey Harrison has found other ways to serve the community. without city housing.

The welcome center, which opened in June, has been in the works for some time, according to UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof. The center is a collaboration between the city, campus and its homeless outreach coordinator Ari Neulight and the Village of Love.

“Architect Sam Davis, an Emeritus Faculty Member with extensive experience in designing affordable housing and facilities for the homeless, developed the initial design for the Welcome Center in consultation with the leadership of the church, city and university project members, and a nonprofit service provider that operates a similar drop-in center,” Mogulof said in an email.

The campus paid for site preparation and site construction at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, Mogulof said. However, he added that the city and the university share the cost of a two-year grant to the Village of Love for the management and operation of the center.

According to Mogulof, the idea for the drop-in center grew out of a Goldman School of Public Policy study that interviewed homeless community members in People’s Park about what could improve their situation.

“A large number of respondents noted that a safe place to rest and connect to services during the day was badly needed,” Mogulof said in the email. “The report recommended the establishment of a church and community-run drop-in center where homeless community members could rest, use the toilet, clean themselves, eat a meal and meet with providers.”

Currently, according to Peter Radu, assistant to the Berkeley city manager, the center provides services such as meals, mental health counselling, employment and housing support, access to benefits and showers, among others. . He regularly serves about 10 people a day, Harrison said, though he’s served as many as 25 to 30 in a single day.

Harrison and his team, who have operated the center since June, have long been preparing for the center to close from July 18 to August 1, Harrison said. According to their rental agreement, the church uses the center space for their two-week summer camp.

With that in mind, Harrison said his team is working to connect with community partners to ensure that visitors to the welcome center are properly cared for while it is closed.

Mogulof added that center guests were specifically directed to Bay Area Community Services and the Dorothy Day House Visitor Center and given a phone number to call if they needed additional services. Radu noted that the Berkeley Community Resource Center and the Berkeley Drop-In Center could also provide services for homeless people.

“The team is still there doing outreach, handing out hygiene kits, meeting with the community,” Harrison said. “(Instead of being) in one place now, they’re sort of mobile around the area.”

Clients normally served at the center can also receive showering and laundry services on Fridays, Harrison noted. Such provisions remain necessary for members of the homeless community, especially since the People’s Park bathroom was sealed in early July, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

Harrison himself has a long history of serving the homeless community, from conducting trainings on de-escalation and preventing the criminalization of homelessness to creating an outreach program for homeless people in the Temescal region.

Harrison said it was his own experiences that led him to develop a homelessness program through Village of Love, which now has several locations in the East Bay.

“I was homeless and I went through that, I was the clients we’re helping now eight years ago,” Harrison said. “It’s really community-based, I’m very committed to building community – bridging the gap between the housed and the unhoused.”

The city, campus and church, Harrison said, have so far been “brilliant” and “very supportive” throughout the process of running the center.

Going forward, Harrison hopes to continue fostering relationships with members of the Berkeley community.

“We’re going there and will continue to build our relationships with our community partners as well as our guests,” Harrison said.

Contact Sébastien Cahill at [email protected]and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahill1.

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