“Safe Haven” transitional home opens in downtown Berkeley

The front entrance to the new “Almost Home” safe house in downtown Berkeley for the homeless moving into permanent housing. attributed to him: Supriya Yalimli

Advocates for the homeless unveiled a bright, renovated Victorian home in downtown Berkeley on Wednesday to offer temporary housing for people moving into their own apartments.

The Homeless Action Center (HAC), which provides legal and outreach services to the homeless throughout Alameda County, will operate a seven-room home with a resident manager at 2207 Haste St. by Options Recovery Services.

Called “Almost Home,” it’s Berkeley’s first safe house, although the nonprofit Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency runs a similar program to Casa Maria in Oakland.

Talks to convert the property into a safe house began in 2021 after HAC CEO Patty Wall saw the property listed, and after HAC signed a 15-year lease for the building, renovations took place most of this year.

Residents of Alameda County on the HS are eligible for temporary stay-at-home stays, likely 30 to 120 days, according to Wall.

Wall said, explaining that many of HAC’s clients operate through additional security income operations that can take months.

The HAC safe house will help arrange primary care physicians for their clients and offer a bridge between camping or street living and permanent housing, which can be a paradoxical transition at first.

“Our customers deserve a little place to take a breath,” Wall said. “[Here] They can kind of integrate a little easier into our community and remember what it’s like to be a homemaker.”

Wall said HAC outreach workers will take residents to required appointments and services, and there will also be “enrichment” programs such as films and art talks.

Home manager Brad Merrill, who has worked for nearly a decade at Dorothy Day House, will move into the property soon, followed by the first group of residents later this fall.

He said there will be rules and restrictions at the accommodation – no pets, no drug or alcohol use, no visitors, and likely a nighttime curfew – but it will give residents a chance to relax in permanent housing.

Not everyone will be fit, but we will give everyone a chance,” Merrill said. “It’s a new experience [HAC]But we’ll give it a chance and hope it helps people.”

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