The City of Berkeley funds 1/3 of the $600K per year costs of the Men’s Overnight Shelter. And this article in InsideBayArea.com notes the city was to vote Monday night on whether to approve the $51K to “replace carpets with tile or linoleum, replace cloth chairs with plastic ones, encase beds in vinyl covers and buy an industrial dryer for clothing and bedding.”
Mandatory showers and the washing of clothing of incoming guests is an essential part of the shelter’s new plan.
Shelter guests have been bitten so badly that they’ve had to be hospitalized, some multiple times. And at least one shelter guest who was thrown out for complaining about bed bugs (when staff were not as well-informed about the problem as they are now) describes how much better it is to sleep rough in the park, rather than under the conditions of a serious bed bug infestation.
What is most distressing is that the Berkeley Food and Housing Project does not expect to get rid of their bed bug problem. They only hope to get it under control:
The city of Berkeley is planning to spend $51,000 to control an infestation of bedbugs at the Men’s Overnight Shelter downtown that has sent numerous homeless clients to the hospital for treatment.
And what’s worse, officials say there is no end in sight.
“They’re not going to be eradicated, we can only control them,” said Geoff Green, associate director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, which runs the shelter.
It’s a realistic approach for shelters in this day and age. But it is extremely sobering.
(No update yet on whether the city’s funding vote went through.)