Donation boxes change scene in Berkeley

Louis LaVenture,
Sports and Campus Editor

The Berkeley City Council approved a proposal from both the Downtown Berkeley Association and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project to install donation boxes for the homeless in various locations around the city.

Positive Change is the name of the program that has been authorized for 10 total donation boxes, which according to their website will, “help fund social services that reduce homelessness.”

According to the DBA the money collected in the boxes will go to transportation services, identification cards, housing application fees, hygiene products and the Homeward Bound Program that reunites homeless people with family and friends in hopes of providing a long term living situation.

Of the 10 boxes, four have been installed in the downtown area near the BART station. The boxes are attached to poles and are “tamper proof” according to Positive Change. Downtown Berkeley Association Chief Executive Officer John Caner led the push for the one year pilot program in the city.

“Some people won’t donate to the homeless for various reasons but these boxes make people more comfortable with giving,” Caner said.


In six months, city officials will complete an evaluation of the program and determine if they will add six more donation boxes. City Councilman Jesse Arreguín and Vice Mayor Linda Maio with the support of Caner created this proposal that passed by a nearly unanimous 8-1 vote on March 17.

The proposal cited the city of Denver who turned old parking meters into donation boxes and raised over $100,000 a year for services for the homeless.

However, not everybody feels that this is a good idea.

“All of these services sound superficial to me,” Berkeley resident Josephine Regianni said. “New socks, some toothpaste and a BART ticket? What is that going to do in the long run? Sounds like we’re trying to get them out of downtown instead of giving to local programs that would actually help them rebuild their lives.”

Some of the programs critics feel that this is the city’s attempt to rid the homeless of the downtown area in order to be more “tourist friendly”. However Arreguín disagrees, “This is aimed to help the homeless and some people feel more comfortable donating to a program, not the individual.”

San Diego has also adopted a similar program that received some flak from local groups who labeled the service a “bus them out of town” concept.

“The Gaslamp Quarter is a huge money maker for this city,” Teresa Rodriguez said. “The city would prefer the homeless not be there asking for money and this is how they get them out.”

Rodriguez is a resident of San Diego and in association with the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless Inc. has held several food and clothing giveaways for the homeless people in the area.

The four metal donation boxes are located on the corners of Addison Street and Shattuck Avenue, Center Street and Shattuck Avenue, Center Street and Oxford Street and Kittredge Street and Shattuck Avenue.