The Berkeley Food & Housing Project, or BFHP, is developing a project that will provide affordable housing and free meals to Berkeley’s low-income and homeless communities.
Named the Hope Center, the project is being developed in partnership with the city of Berkeley and Bridge Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer that partners with local community nonprofits to build units that fit their needs. The development will provide 89 subsidized apartment units, 53 permanent housing units, 32 shelter beds and 12 transitional housing beds for veterans.
The site will be located at 2012 Berkeley Way and is planned to be operational by early summer of 2022.
“This project is several years in the making, previous executive director Terrie Light had a vision to bring more housing to Berkeley by utilizing underutilized space. This was previously a parking lot,” said Calleene Egan, executive director of BFHP. “The vision of the building is innovative, so many programs wrapped into one.”
While it will look like one building from a street perspective, the facility will operate as two connected buildings, said Jon McCall, the development project manager for Bridge Housing.
In addition to the transitional, shelter and permanent units, the Hope Center will also provide free meals to anyone experiencing food insecurity, according to Egan. BFHP development manager Rick Dean said in an email that the center anticipates they will provide up to 200,000 meals a year once it is operational.
Through the center, in-house medical and mental illness care will also be provided through organizations like LifeLong Medical Care and Berkeley Mental Health.
“The Berkeley Way project represents Berkeley’s largest ever investment in addressing our homelessness crisis,” said City Councilmember Sophie Hahn in an email. “Essential services, hot meals, transitional and permanent supportive housing facilities we can help accelerate the transition off the streets for many of Berkeley’s unhoused residents.”
The subsidized apartments connected to the main facility will operate as a normal affordable housing site with onsite services, McCall said. He added that most units will range between $1,284 to $1,541 in rent depending on the unit’s size, while 25% of units will have rent amounting to 30% of a resident’s income.
Both McCall and Egan expressed a shared vision that the community they are building will create both a space for peer-to-peer support and McCall noted that he wants it to be a place to see people “move up ladders.”
They also both noted that coming in for a free meal one time could lead to supportive conversations and even finding a stable home.
“Every one of these units will change someone’s life,” said City Councilmember Rigel Robinson in an email. “It will take an all-of-the-above approach to end the homelessness crisis, and in Berkeley we are doing just that. These units are a critical part of our work to help the over a thousand unhoused residents of this city.”