On a brisk afternoon in November of 2019, Marketing Intern Max Frincke (myself) and Government and Public Relations Manager Greg Magofña went to McKinley House in Downtown Berkeley to talk Paris Anderson about what McKinley House, a 7-unit building that recently transitioned from interim housing to permanent supportive housing, provides and whom we serve.
Paris, who works as an Assistant Property Manager and lives at McKinley, is in charge of overseeing McKinley and assisting its residents. He gave us a tour of the property, showed us some rooms, and spoke to us about his experience at McKinley. Paris has been with BOSS for five years, having graduated from our Career Training and Employment Center (CTEC) and later working at Casa Maria, our interim emergency housing program. He started working at McKinley in 2019.
“McKinley House,” Paris said, “is special because it is in a great area: a piece of Berkeley that a lot of people would love to live.” Protected by the nearby police department, McKinley House sits hidden in a quiet residential area, yet is only a few blocks from Berkeley High School, the Berkeley Public Library, and western edge of the UC Berkeley campus. McKinley possesses an added layer of protection and local comfort that separates it from most housing programs, making it one of BOSS’s most cherished resources.
After its inception in 2017, the former transitional program for families became BOSS’s first program created with funds from the US Department of Housing & Urban Development. The site now serves as permanent housing for disabled homeless adults. In the three-story building there are 7 units, along with a gated yard to the side that includes a table, comfortable seats, and grill.
The most important feature of McKinley House, Paris says, is provide a safe environment for people to live and be able to enjoy themselves.” Paris, having gone in-and-out of prison before joining BOSS, knows what it’s like to come from a difficult predicament. It is important that we hired Paris for this position because his experience translated well to our mission at BOSS. Paris likes working for BOSS because it helped him turn his life around. He says:
“I like working for BOSS. The way that BOSS helped me return to that someone else. That makes me happy. From being here to working at the shelter, just to meet people and be able to talk to them and show them human decency. Just treat them like anybody else would treat them; as opposed to treating them as participants or ‘these people.’ Treating people with respect is what makes BOSS special.”
If you are homeless and need assistance in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, or Oakland contact the BACS Housing Resource Center at 510-613-0330. If you are homeless or need assistance in another city, call 211.