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[Press] Op-ed: Cuts to downtown services threaten basic quality of life for the homeless

This Op-ed from July 22, 2016 written by Sonja Fitz, our Director of Development. This is about BOSS’s Multi-Agency Service Center and how cuts to the funding are hurting the program and quality of life for the homeless.


BOSS’s Multi-Agency Service Center (MASC) is a downtown drop-in center located in the basement at the City Veterans building. Since 2000, it has provided access to showers, bathrooms, laundry, and, simply, a safe place to be off the street during the day. Depending on funding, it has also provided a fluctuating array of case management, housing search assistance, access to computers, food, and other support services.

Last year the City of Berkeley cut funding to the MASC. Formerly open seven days a week, it reduced days and hours and is now open Monday to Friday, 8am-12 noon.

This year the City cut funding again and BOSS will have to turn away all drop-in traffic so that people must find daily refuge in parks or on sidewalks. The City also cut funding to other drop-in programs (e.g. Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center and Berkeley Drop-in Center), as they have narrowed their focus to the continued development and expansion of the ‘Hub’ — a central coordinated entry system for all homeless service delivery located in South Berkeley.

The Hub has no showers and no laundry, and it is in a residential community. Historically, communities have resisted the presence of housing and service programs in residential neighborhoods — the Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) phenomenon. Is this the emergence of a Not In My Front Yard (NIMFY) movement, resisting the presence of basic amenities for homeless people in a city’s communal downtown?

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