Public Comment

Mike Zint No Longer Has a HUB Social Worker

Marcia Poole
Saturday March 30, 2019 - 01:55:00 PM

Greetings Mayor and Berkeley City Council members.

I appreciate the attempts all of you have made to solve the ever growing problem with our unhoused community. When I write to you, it is not with an adversarial attitude - it is with the desire to give you information that you may not have and that could help you redesign structures and policies.

Mike Zint is a friend of mine whom I feel very close to. I am aware of many of his health problems and often reach out to the City of Berkeley when I see Mike going through difficult times that the City could resolve. He has had 4 social workers through the HUB in the time that he has been housed by Berkeley at the border of Oakland and San Leandro. Some of these workers have been very helpful in temporarily resolving situations that have put him in great physical jeopardy. The last series of incidents involved the rains penetrating through his ceilings and walls and making his place uninhabitable. HUB and the City had his landlord, who they contracted with, repair the outside and then the inside of his apartment. He now does not live in a watery swamp, but he still has water coming out of the wall in an area of the bathroom. This has been ongoing for several months. The basic problem is that Berkeley contracted with a slum landlord who was being prosecuted by the City of Oakland for negligence in his maintenance of housing and who Oakland refused to do business with anymore. The same issues that Oakland saw arose for Berkeley with this landlord

Mike Zint has stage 4 emphysema and COPD and has great difficulty physically moving about. He now weighs under 100 pounds and is on medication to help him walk, talk and do the normal daily functions. The medicine works and he is able to live alone and get along. The problem, though, is the continual mold that seeps in through the walls and ceilings from the previous water damage. Berkeley's HUB attempted to move him to an apartment in Berkeley two months ago, but it fell through. Now, the social worker who was assigned to him has left the HUB and he has found himself with no worker and no one who is responsive to his needs. 

His lease renewal is coming up at the end of this month (March). His worker was trying to place him in Berkeley before the expiration of the current lease. Now, he has no worker and has to negotiate without the knowledge of what he legally should do in this situation and what is expected of him. Since the HUB appears to be in constant transition of workers, he and others who had a helpful social worker are again left stranded in untenable situations. 

I know Berkeley is trying to hire and train more social workers for the HUB, but since they are down to about one full time worker who has to deal with all of their placed clients, as well as help people that are constantly coming in seeking housing and coordination, I think Berkeley has found itself in a real bind that effects its ability to function. I am amazed that Berkeley's HUB has been able to operate at all, given the circumstances. We have a real emergency regarding the staffing of HUB and I wonder why they have such a turnover. Perhaps the social workers are overwhelmed by the work load (I would guess) and at some point see exit as their only solution. I don't know. But I do know that it is totally understaffed by trained personnel and that the housing situation will only get worse in Berkeley, not better. They need help. 

Please have someone contact Mike Zint (510.563.9162) and finally place him into an apartment where he is not so stranded and abandoned. Please help him do more than barely survive his living quarters. We could use his help in Berkeley as a conduit between the unhoused and the City workers who seek to help those in need. And please help the HUB by fully staffing them with qualified workers and not create burnout for the staff there