Public Comment

Homeless Youth: A Bright and Shining Light (Candidate Position Paper)

Mike Lee,
Friday January 22, 2016 - 01:42:00 PM

Kriss Worthington announced recently in an e-mail to the community that ,"Item 35 to adopt a resolution declaring a homeless crisis was unanimously approved by the City Council." "This simple common sense measure was only delayed twice from Dec 15 and Jan 12 before last night’s successful adoption." He goes on to gently remind the reader that this is but one small step and the next battle is over the Homeless Task Force Tier one recommendations on February 9th

Passage of the crisis resolution is largely symbolic because unlike other cities it does not carry a financial commitment. In a macabre Abbott-and-Costello-like skit there lacks any type of plan or intent to even decide what the next step is. Not only is the majority of the council led by Capitelli and Arreguin befuddled by who's on first they can't even find it! 

It is especially disturbing to me that the obvious is overlooked. All you have to do is walk down Shattuck to discover we have a serious challenge called homelessness. It is unacceptable to me that simple cost effective solutions which are in place to confront this conundrum have to struggle for funding. 

On February 9th the Council will be presented with a request to fund a " ...indoor space for homeless youth during El Nino.."(Worthington e mail). The proposal is being presented primarily by Youth Spirit Artworks(YSA) in partnership with YEAH (Youth Engagement, Advocacy and Housing Along with their impeccable record YSA brings with them a matching grant commitment. 

" YSA has received a new matching grant that will make it possible for all gifts to Youth Spirit to be matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000!
The gift is focused on building our collaboration with YEAH shelter providing jobs training for homeless youth indoors during el Nino. We have opened our doors from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm daily, for a total of up to 40 additional hours to keep youth safe. We are working hard to create 24/7 empowering and positive indoor space for youth this winter." ( 

Once funding is in place the end result is homeless youth will be provided with shelter 24/7. At night they stay at the YEAH shelter. During the day they can program at YSA. This is exactly the wrap around solution which has proven an effective method in lending a hand up and not a hand out to homeless youth one of which I support whole heartedly. 

The amount requested is a miniscule $15,000. To me this is a no brainer. For the City gets 100% service for 50% of the cost. What a deal! Hell give them the whole $25,000 and ask them to bring another bargain like this one. This proposal is good for the city, its good for the community and its good for homeless youth. 

The Nay-sayers will wail "but we don't have any money!" Let's see there are 100,000 plus residents of Berkeley. If each one gave a quarter that's $25,000. Hey Arreguin isn't this your district? Stop beating your chest about all the good things you've done and get your marching boots are on. Get on the street corner with a bucket, go door to door, sell cookies, wash cars the community doesn't care what you do but go get this money because homeless youth can't wait. 

It's nice the powers that be finally decided to recognize the obvious. What is really shameful is that the community had to keep on harping about this very point. 

At this point the question begging to be answered is this: Who is in charge of the City? According to professional politicians it's them because they and only they know what's good for us. To me it is the community who at the end of the day pay all of the bills and are the true experts on what's best for them. 

Mike Lee is a homelessness activist who describes himself as "the third mayoral candidate with a new vision for a new future: a campaign of solutions and not promises."