We wish to commemorate the numerous legislative successes and service accomplishments BOSS was a part of last year, which were made possible with the help of our partners, community, benefactors, volunteers, friends and the BOSS TEAM as we look ahead to 2023 and beyond.
Over the past decade, despite ongoing challenges, there have been numerous successes in tackling poverty, homelessness, mass incarceration, and criminal injustices.
Here are a few examples of what we've accomplished so far and what we can look forward to in the coming year:
Reducing poverty: In recent years, BOSS supported initiatives to increase the minimum wage, provided education, training and employment assistance to hundreds of low income and high barrier job seekers (e.g. formerly incarcerated, homeless, disabled), and provided direct economic assistance to people impacted by COVID 19 including rental assistance, homeless prevention, employment assistance, and distributing family gift cards, PPE, food, and basic supplies. These efforts increased economic security and economic opportunities for low income community members.
Addressing homelessness: Since its inception BOSS has fought to expand access to affordable housing - in recent years this included supporting successful campaigns to pass Fair Chance Housing measures in Berkeley and Oakland that ban the 'prior conviction' question from housing applications and implementing multiple new emergency housing programs County-wide: Wood Street Safe Parking RV Park in Oakland, Fairmont Navigation Center Tiny Homes Village in San Leandro, Women & Children's Reentry Campus in East Oakland, and Step Up Housing currently in development in downtown Berkeley. BOSS is also part of a Bay Area-wide 3-year Tipping Point initiative working to reduce youth homelessness.
Reforms to the criminal justice system: Along with multiple allies (Californians for Safety and Justice, Alliance for Justice, Time Done, California Black Power Network), BOSS has worked on successful measures to address sentencing reform, create diversion programs, and pass initiatives to remove barriers to societal reintegration after completing sentences. BOSS co-founded the Re-Entry Providers Association of California (REPAC) to amplify the voice of reentry service providers in statewide decision-making and help them achieve their missions. These reforms have helped reduce prison populations and improve outcomes for justice involved people.
BOSS staff are amazing, dedicated, and committed 100%. I want to give them respect and accolades because this is hard work. The way we do it—relationship building with social justice at its core, relentless case management, peer support, and being present—is challenging. We don't have a sterile process - we're immersed in this work with the understanding that change is incremental and crisis isn’t a scheduled event. I salute my staff, who are innovators. They actively participate in this innovative and transformative process and have assisted with many successes. I see it daily. It's happening, and it's real - and that makes me proud every day - Donald Frazier, CEO
Looking forward to the coming year, specific BOSS goals in the next few years include:
Continue to create new housing: BOSS will complete the Step Up Housing program (34 new units) and raise funds to develop new reentry housing County-wide. BOSS is currently working with the City of Oakland to implement a new Community Cabins program (100 units).
Increase economic opportunity: BOSS will continue to support efforts to increase the minimum wage, provide more resources for job training and education, and support entrepreneurship and micro-business development.
Continued justice system reforms: BOSS will continue to support efforts on sentencing reform, diversion programs, and other initiatives that help reduce mass incarceration and improve successful reentry. We are aiming to relaunch BOSS' Social Justice Collective (SJC) Fellowship - paid leadership development trainings to justice involved participants, to enhance the justice reform movement with lived experience.
BOSS programs are innovative, based on evidence-based practices and proven methodologies, and emphasize lived experience: across BOSS over 70% of staff (90% in reentry programs) have personal experience with the same issues faced by current participants.
By continuing to focus on these issues and working together, we can make significant progress in tackling poverty, homelessness, mass incarceration, and criminal injustices.
All BOSS programs are designed to improve the quality of life for marginalized and disenfranchised people in our community.
Visit our donation page to see how you can continue being of service and help BOSS Bay Area remain one of today's most recognized leaders in social justice, housing, reentry, and violence prevention, along with innovative service delivery methodologies.