People's Park dispute over homeless-resident relocations escalates in Berkeley

UC Berkeley is in the process of relocating people who sleep at People’s Park to transitional housing at a hotel in Berkeley. UC Berkeley is planning to build more than 1,000 units of student housing at People’s Park.

But a group of activists say they aren’t leaving and plan to occupy the park.

"We are going to be occupying until we achieve victory," said Nicholas Alexander, an activist who is also a Berkeley alumnus. "Until the University decides to build on the many other spaces that are readily available to be built upon."

Alexander was once a homeless youth, and said the park transformed his life.

"The opportunities that this park gives to specifically marginalized communities cannot be replicated anywhere else. This is a one of a kind space and once it's gone you're never going to have it again," said Alexander.

The University has given everyone who sleeps or gathers at People’s Park an option for shelter. In a partnership with the City of Berkeley, transitional housing is available at the Rodeway Inn on University Avenue.

Kyle Gibson, the Director of Communications for UC Berkeley Capital Strategies said "We have a supportive housing environment that’s going to include services including housing navigation counseling and medical services as well as a more safe and stable place for these individuals to sleep when they’re on they are on a pathway to more permanent housing."

The University’s social worker and the city’s homeless response team are at the park on a daily basis. They identified 64 regular residents of the park. 40 of them have already moved into the hotel. Others left the area, found other housing, or declined the offer. Gibson said tents are only removed after people move out.

"We are doing this process in a really gradual manner," said Gibson. "We want to be very sensitive to the needs of the people with this transition and for it to be a successful transition for everyone out there."