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Pathways Homeless Shelter

Berkeley, 2018

In early 2018 the City of Berkeley, working with their Public Works department, closed off an entire unpaved block of Second Street, fenced the site and had some trailers delivered. This was to be Berkeley’s new homeless shelter.  When members of the City Council visited the site they were appalled to see how desolate the site felt.  David Trachtenberg and his brother Robert (a landscape architect and contractor) were approached by members of Berkeley’s City Council who sought assistance with developing the site in the hope that it might still be possible to bring a sense of humanity to what, at the time, had all of the charm of an internment camp.

David and Robert were eager to help and threw themselves into this pro-bono project.  With little money available Robert and David were able to solicit free materials from local suppliers as well as skilled labor from the construction community.  Three weekend-long work parties were organized and hundreds of volunteers showed up to offer their time and labor.  It was wonderful.

The site now has approximately 45 residents. The extensive landscaping has softened the site and residents say they feel a sense of peace and beauty there.  Within just a few months the Pathways Shelter helped 20 people to transition from homelessness to permanent housing outside of the shelter. It feels like a healing place.

Despite the early success, the project is not without its critics as can be seen in the comments section of the attached article: