A year ago, Berkeley Patients Group launched our $1 Million For Good initiative, supporting 10 nonprofits working to uplift our local community.
In honor of November’s National Homelessness Awareness Month, we are raising funds for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS).
Homelessness in the Bay Area
Homelessness is a public welfare and health epidemic that we can reduce with comprehensive programs.
Today’s rising cost of living, highly competitive job market, and the opioid, fentanyl, and methamphetamine epidemics contribute to homelessness and can impact anyone.
According to bayareaeconomy.org, the Bay Area’s homeless crisis ranks among the worst in the United States.
The Bay Area has the third-largest population of people experiencing homelessness (28,200) in the U.S., behind only New York City (76,500) and Los Angeles (55,200), according to Point-in-Time counts.
Image: Bay Area Economy
The 2019 Bay Area Council poll shows residents of the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area rank homelessness behind only housing affordability (which is closely related to homelessness) and traffic congestion as the region’s biggest challenges, and the number of residents who believe homelessness is the region’s top problem has nearly tripled since 2015.
Donating and volunteering are two ways we can combat the symptoms of homelessness, though we must also address the root causes of poverty to ensure more people are not impacted, and those who are will be uplifted from it.
Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency
During National Homelessness Awareness Month, BPG is partnering with Berkeley’s own Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), which helps homeless, sick, and disabled people achieve health and self-reliance while fighting against the root causes of poverty and homelessness.
BOSS was founded in 1971 by a group of volunteers from the Hillel Streetwork Project, who responded to the needs of individuals suffering from mental illnesses that were left without support due to California hospital closures. Volunteers provided outreach, crisis intervention, and benefits advocacy to the emerging homeless population.
Today, the organization serves all ages—from newborns to seniors—providing shelter, housing, mental health services, employment development, and other services free-of-charge to those in need.
BOSS also provides resources and services that combat mass-incarceration and community violence. In their grand efforts to end poverty, they provide solutions to bring love, hope, and support to families and individuals in need.
BOSS in Action in Response to COVID-19
BOSS Outreach Team giving out groceries in West Oakland Sat, 5/2/20
“BOSS is at the tip of the spear assisting the most vulnerable people in our society and as fulfilling as it may be – it’s not easy, quite frankly it’s an extremely difficult job. Yet, during this time of uncertainty, we will continue to be a positive motivating force with each other and in the lives of countless human beings who come through our doors providing love, respect, safety and a sense of belonging.” – Donald Frazier Executive Director
As an essential services provider in the Bay Area, BOSS will continue our work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
BOSS monitors guidance and resources, in consultation with community leaders, local public health departments, other community or faith-based organizations about places to refer clients, develops alternative small-group programming/activities with requisite social distancing, and have modified each of our existing programs in a manner appropriate to its operations to continue to provide essential services while reducing the risk of virus transmission.
BOSS also creates a communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information during the outbreak; identifying and addressing potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to staff and clients.
To learn more about Operational steps taken since the onset of COVID-19, please visit https://self-sufficiency.org/covid19/.
Berkeley Patients Group stands with BOSS in the war against poverty and homelessness. With your help, we can eliminate the homelessness epidemic once and for all.
Additional Resources at BPG
Helping Hands Program
Helping Hands is BPG’s needs‐based care program for our Berkeley members, proudly offered since we opened in 1999! Helping Hands patients are eligible to receive two eighths (7 grams) of cannabis flowers per week. Recipients may choose a combination of Indica, Sativa, or High‐CBD flowers.
Applications for the program open on November 20, 2019. To learn more and apply, visit myBPG.com/services/helping-hands.
Here in Berkeley, we are fortunate to have a variety of resources available to individuals needing assistance. We’ve compiled a list of local organizations that can support your health and overall well-being, many of which offer their services at little-to-no cost.
Please contact organizations directly for more information, including hours, fees, and eligibility. If you have questions or need help locating resources, please email us at helpinghands@myBPG.com.
How You Can Help
BOSS offers many volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in helping fight this epidemic hands on. Click here to learn how you can get involved.
Shop at Berkeley Patients Group in November to support BOSS and help end homelessness. You can add a donation to your order online at myBPG.com/shop.