Accessible Safer Shelters:Enough is Enough press conference

Center for Independent Living (CIL) logo

Gray Panthers of Berkeley is a proud part of this coalition and encourages members to join us in person this Thursday at the Ed Roberts Campus (atop Ashby BART) to support our partners and speak out on this issue. See EBGP co-convenor Betsy Morris's statement at the event and sign on to support it.

Press Release  

 Press Conference Thursday, April 25th @ 2:00 p.m. at the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA

Berkeley Coalition Advocates Demand Urgent Action

Inaccessible Homeless Shelters Fail Disabled, Seniors, and People with Mental Health Disabilities

Accessible Safer Shelters: Enough is Enough 25 April 2024 @ 2 PM Ed Roberts Campus 3075 Adeline Street Berkeley, CABerkeley, California, April, 2024 — As a coalition of concerned citizens, community leaders, and advocates for social and disability justice, we raise our voices to address the dire situation faced by disabled and chronically ill people, seniors, and people with mental health disabilities experiencing homelessness in Berkeley and the Bay Area. The lack of accessible housing shelters in our local and regional areas, including Pathways STAIR Center in Berkeley, is a grave injustice to unhoused people with disabilities that, for too long, have been ignored.  

The Crisis: A System Failing Our Most Vulnerable 

Homelessness is a crisis affecting our entire community, but it disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people with physical or cognitive disabilities. These vulnerable individuals face immense challenges in securing safe shelter due to outdated and inaccessible facilities. The current state of our shelter system needs change. We call for the end to: 

  1. Inaccessible Shelters: Most shelters lack appropriate space or accommodations for people with disabilities—if they have them at all. The layout and structure of these buildings often have inaccessible bathrooms and living spaces, People with mobility impairments are especially impacted. It has been reported people with disabilities have to relieve themselves outside or remain in their own waste due to inaccessible bathroom facilities. For instance, the Pathway STAIRS Shelter in Berkeley, the City of Berkeley acknowledges, has 98 ADA violations. 
  2. Criminalization of Homelessness: Making it a crime for unhoused individuals to sleep in public places when there's insufficient accessible shelter space is inhumane.  Many have nowhere else to go due to overcrowded or inaccessible shelters5
  3. Health Impacts: Denied access to shelters, people with disabilities often resort to dangerous locations like sidewalks or under bridges. Shelter staff may lack proper training to assist them effectively. 

Our Call to Action 

We demand immediate action to rectify this crisis:Violence Against Women; Poor Health; Inaccessible Bathroom & Living Facilities; Criminalization of Homelessness; This is what unhoused seniors and the disabled endure; Press Conference @ ERC at 2 PM 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley

  1. Accessibility Survey: Local and regional authorities must conduct a comprehensive accessibility survey of all shelters. The survey should assess physical accessibility, accommodations for various disabilities, and adherence to ADA and 504 guidelines. We demand that a cross-disability coalition of people with disabilities with lived experience vet non-conforming facilities for safety and ease of use. The lack of access to accessible bathrooms has forced many out during inclement weather and resulted in others being trapped in bed in their own waste. This condition is inhumane and displays willfully indifference to the basic needs of unhoused people with disabilities needing to use shelters.

  2. Retrofitting and Upgrades: Funds need to be allocated to retrofit existing shelters and build new ones with universal design principles. This includes ramps, wider doorways, accessible bathrooms, and sensory-friendly spaces.

  3. Training and Sensitization: Shelter staff must receive training on disability awareness, communication, and best practices for assisting disabled individuals. 

  4. Collaboration and Advocacy: We call upon the City of Berkeley, Coordinated Care Entry Centers, and Alameda County officials to meet with us to address and end inaccessible shelters. Our coalition consists of advocates, tradespersons, community-based organizations, and persons with disabilities who have experienced homelessness. Our perspective is essential and valuable—nothing about us without us.

Join Us At Our Press Conference 

We aren’t going anywhere! We ask all compassionate individuals to join us in creating accessible, safe shelters where everyone, regardless of ability, has a warm place to rest their head. Join community advocates on Thursday, April 25th at 2:00 p.m. at the Ed Roberts Campus, at 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA, 94703 in asserting enough is enough!

Contact: Pathway STAIRS Coalition and Michai Freeman, Systems Change Advocate at The Center for Independent Living 

Email: [email protected] Phone: (510) 330-5625 

About Us: The Berkeley Coalition for Shelter Accessibility is a grassroots organization committed to advocating for accessible and dignified shelter options for all.


1: Shelterforce: Why Aren't Homeless Shelters Accommodating People Who Have Disabilities? 5: Justice Department Files Brief to Address the Criminalization of Homelessness 


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April 25, 2024 at 2:00pm - 4pm
Ed Roberts Campus (ERC)
3075 Ade3line St
Berkeley, CA 94703
United States
Google map and directions
Michai Freeman, Systems Change Advocate at The Center for Independent Living · · (510) 330-5625