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"Where do we go?" Berkeley - COVID-19 Crisis

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Prior to COVID-19 our GoFundMe page raised a little over $12,000 to pay for 150 tents, tent heaters, mylar blankets, tarps, medicine, etc. for the 4 largest homeless encampments in Berkeley.  

Since COVID-19 hit we have reached our $15,000 goal for winter but not for helping the most vulnerable through a pandemic. We continue to provide tents, tarps and food. We immediately installed 4 more porta potties in our camps for a total of 6. The maintenance fee alone is $852 a month. We will purchase tents for isolation in case any of our residents experience COVID-19 symptoms. We are setting up grocery delivery because the recycling center closed in Berkeley so the extra money that the unhoused earned is no longer available.  

As we raise money we will help those unhoused in need along Second street and downtown. Thank you so much for your donation. 

Please read updates on our page and you will see how we help people survive.
Find us on Facebook: WheredowegoBerkeley 
Find us on Twitter: @wheredowegoBerk 

Dear Friends,

While many of us have been told to “shelter in place” to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, hundreds of people in Berkeley still have no place in which to shelter. Many non-profits and care providers have ceased operations due to the virus and donations of food and supplies towards those in the encampments have dwindled to near nothing. Despite assurances by city leaders, conditions at the camps are extreme. Here are excerpts from a recent account by Andrea Henson, lead organizer for “Where Do We Go?” Here she describes conditions at four encampments in Berkeley on March 16, 2020 (Gilman, Ashby/Shellmound, Seabreeze, and the one under the I-80 underpass)

No one has electricity and few have phones, leaving some unaware of current events. I told everyone that we needed to prepare “as if” the city or state could not help us. Help takes time (government help can move slowly and nonprofits may not be able to come out) and we may not have that kind of time so we need to prepare to help one another.

In the camps there is no hand sanitizer, soap, water, vitamins, stockpiles of food or toilet paper. Most people were in small groups in tents or outside. While social distancing is required in the housed world, that is a difficult concept to implement in the world of the unhoused. Socializing is a key tool used to survive on the streets.

Everyone, except for one person, said that no City staff had visited any of the camps to tell them about the virus. Only one person said “someone from the city came wearing a mask” but he didn’t really know if it was someone from the city.  There is only one wash station located across from the Seabreeze Market. However, this wash station is located on the opposite side of the street from the porta potty. There are no wash stations at any of the other encampments. (Residents provided the garbage can) 

Ashby/Shellmound. Two people were in the hospital last week. One person had a severe respiratory infection and the other had severe strep throat. One man may have MRSA. Others have some respiratory issues. There are probably more issues but I was unable to talk to everyone.  One 19 year old woman has an extraordinarily severe staph infection. Oozing sores cover her entire body. The residents brought her to me as she has some sort of diminished capacity. She had no shoes and was very hungry and sick.

Almost no one had heard about the shelter in place. They do not understand how that will affect them in the encampments. Many are scared that they will be arrested if out on the street.  The rats have taken over as many people have left their tents or live with rats in their tents or in their mattresses. Some food comes in aluminum tins that rot quickly and the rats crawl through it. We desperately need vector control to come out to each camp.


* Wash stations

* Porta Potties at all 4 Berkeley Encampments (We have installed 6 porta potties with hand sanitizer stations at a cost of $852 a month for dumping and cleaning). 

* Trash pick up

* Hand Sanitizer

* Tissue

*  Baby Wipes

* Toilet Paper

* Propane

* Solar Panels (because charging stations at businesses will be closed)

* Deep cycle batteries (“same as above”)

* Propane Cook Stoves

* Tarps

* Trash Cans with lids

* Tubs for food storage

* Drinking water

* Soap - Dawn dish soap

* Canned Meat - spam, chicken, tuna, ham, etc.

* Canned Fruit

* Canned Veggies

* Evaporated Milk

* Can openers

* Chili

* Canned Beans

* Peanut Butter


* Crackers

* Tortillas

* Block cheese

* Batteries

* Trash bags

* Medical supplies

* Vector Control

* Dog Food

* Blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, etc.


Please read about how we started our campaign and what we did to prepare for the winter. We are a direct action campaign and we get items directly to the residents who need it most. 

Please donate to the #WhereDoWeGoBerk Campaign. We are raising money for tents and other winter supplies for the Seabreeze and the I-80 University Underpass homeless encampments.  Each of these encampments experienced increased and repeated Caltrans evictions where they lost tents, storage tubs, and their belongings. Tents provide shelter. Storage tubs provide food protection from the rats. Garbage and waste management mitigate health and safety risks. The residents of these encampments are being proactive by starting their own campaign to improve their living conditions and prepare for winter. We are asking you to help us please. 

KC, one of our elders, who is disabled and cannot walk, moved 7 times in 3 weeks. She lost her tent, mattress and many of her belongings. After Caltrans evictions, she had to sleep under a boat sail on a metal bed frame. Thanks to Todd Jersey, a local Berkeley architect, we purchased a new yurt for KC so that she could have shelter and get her wheelchair easily inside. We still need to weatherproof her Yurt and provide her with other needed supplies. 
Thank you Todd Jersey Architecture 

There are similar stories throughout these encampments and we need many more tents donated. Patricia Moore, another resident, needs a Yurt as well because she cannot move her wheelchair in her tent. She needs daily wound care so we need to provide her with fresh bandages and medical supplies. 
Patricia Moore in her current tent. She cannot walk and must crawl out of her tent to get into her wheelchair. She cannot roll her wheelchair into her tent so a yurt would give her accessibly and warmth in the winter months. 

Winter is coming! These Berkeley residents need to be self-sufficient because city services cannot provide for all of their needs. They are asking the City of Berkeley for trash pick-up, porta potties, and drinking water. They would also like to purchase heavy duty trash bags and containers.  Help us help them to create a safe, clean, and weather proof environment.

Our goal is to purchase 50-60 weather proof tents. Unlike when a person goes camping temporarily, these tents will be used as a temporary HOME to get someone through the winter and secure their belongings. The money raised will go toward the purchase of tents and other winter supplies including waterproof tarps. Additionally, some of the money donated will go toward waste and trash management.

A portion of the money raised will provide 30-50 GoGirl's to women so that they can easily use the restroom in uncomfortable spaces. 

Find out more information on the GOGIRL on Amazon. 

The donated supplies will be distributed throughout the encampments equally.  At the request of the residents, we will set up a donations tent so that other homeless individuals (throughout Berkeley)  can receive the supplies  they need. The donations tent will be run by the unhoused residents themselves, who will work as volunteers, keeping inventory, and equally distributing supplies to all of the individuals living in the encampments.

Our new Community Donations tent from Amazon. Thank you Sarah W for this contribution!  

The unhoused in Berkeley are uniting to demand an answer to the question: Where do we go? Until they  can find a lawful place to be, please help them protect themselves and the most vulnerable in their community from the cold of winter. There are not enough shelter beds or housing. The most vulnerable are our senior citizens and disabled. These communities care and take care of their most vulnerable. They need our help.  The current solutions are not working. We need immediate solutions for this winter and community building. Please help us.

For a history of the Where do we go? movement see recent article by JP Masser: An Intersecting Tale: Berkeley's #WhereDoWeGo Movement Stays Fast. 

Please support Street Spirit  and purchase a copy of the October 2019 edition from a homeless vendor in Berkeley.
Photo taken by Yessica Prado and Article written by Alastair Boone, published in the October 2019 edition of Street Spirit.

Tent design and photo taken by Suzi Garner.  We LOVE you Suzi! I cannot wait until we get Where do we go? t-shirts with your tents as the photo. 


  • Enythe Green
    • $10 
    • 4 yrs


Andrea Henson
Berkeley, CA

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