In the Friday Dec. 14, 2001 issue you printed a picture of the grand opening of the Gaia Building. Developer Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests used the event as a fundraiser for the Berkeley Emergency Food and Housing Project, another clear indication that this agency, which serves homeless and formerly homeless Berkeley residents, is gaining the support of the mainstream business community. Thank you to all who came and contributed. The event raised $4,600 for our programs. (Special thanks to Skates and Café de La Paz for their wonderful food.)
The Gaia opening marked the beginning of a partnership between BEFHP and Panoramic Interests to provide permanent, affordable housing for our clients. The Gaia Building has more than a dozen units available at low-cost to those in need. It is the first new project by a private developer to accept Section 8 certificate holders.
Patrick Kennedy has stepped up to the plate and is now in the planning stage of developing more housing that would include many more units dedicated to low-income residents. This plan will also eventually provide offices to our administrative staff, allowing us to expand the space currently being used for offices at our North County Women’s Center to house more women and children.
Permanent housing is the best solution to homelessness and the problematic street behaviors that arise as the economy and housing crises add pressure on our already disenfranchised and desperate brothers and sisters on the street. This is something obviously important to the merchants of Shattuck and Telegraph avenues, as well as advocates dedicated to ending the trauma of homelessness. Add to this the advantage of housing formerly homeless individuals in mainstream housing developments and the consequential socializing that occurs for all parties involved, and everybody wins.
Across the nation communities are reeling from the disaster of Sept. 11 and pulling in the purse strings in response to the recession. Berkeley doesn’t hoard her riches or stockpile goods in fear of deprivation. Instead, the larders are emptied and the wallets are opened and presents for the kids, food for the table, and cash to pay PG&E are all contributed.
What a better example embodying the spirit of this season!
Marci Jordan, Executive Director
Berkeley Emergency Food and Housing Project