Ursula Sherman Village was born in 1975 out of the merger between Berkeley Streetwork Project and Berkeley Youth Hostel, to become Berkeley Support Services, a 10-bed shelter for the homeless mentally ill – the first in California. Over the years, the project grew, adding additional shelter beds (Harrison House), family transitional housing (Sankofa House), computer lab, Children’s Learning Center, playground, gardens, and more.
Who was Ursula Sherman? The Village, as it is often called, is named for Ursula Sherman, founding member of BOSS, Board Member for many years, & lifelong human and civil rights activist. Read more about her and her inspiring story HERE.
Need information on housing? Call the Hub if in Berkeley (1-866-960-2132) or ACCESS at the County if disabled (800-491-9099) or 211 for information on programs, available services, and to determine eligibility to appropriate programs. BOSS is unable to take walk-ins for shelter space.
DROP INS NOT ACCEPTED since most nights there is not space available. Call the Berkeley shelter hotline at 1-866-960-2132 to find available shelter space, including at the Village.
The Children’s Learning Center (CLC) is located on-site plus an outdoor playground, gardens, and adult computer lab.
Robin entered Ursula Sherman Village without any income. While in the program, she sought employment and got a job at Petrini’s Bakery. After a ninety-day stay at the Village, she left to handle some personal business in another state, then returned to the Bay Area and realized she had to start over, once again without a job or housing. She started working at Peet’s Coffee, working any hours of the day or night that were available. But she wasn’t satisfied with one paycheck: she wanted to reach her goal of being able to save some money. So she got a second job, at UC Berkley Cal Dining, and was now working seven days a week. She saved and saved until she reached her goal of the $7,000 needed to visit her mom and move to Arizona, where she an apartment waiting for her. The experience was exhausting, but Village staff continually encouraged her and she kept going.
Robin left staff a note when she left, which she let us share here:
“On Friday I will be leaving the Harrison House shelter to move out of state. I will be going to Eugene, OR for several days to visit my mom and then from Eugene I will be going to Tuscon AZ. I am very appreciative I was able to get housing at Harrison House and for the positive encouragement and support I received during my stay. It helped make it possible for me to reach my goals of self-sufficiency and stability. Thank you to you and all the staff at Harrison House!”
Congratulations Robin on achieving your goals—we are so proud of you!
Nancy and her 3-year old child moved into Sankofa House from a residential drug treatment program. With the support staff, she was able to maintain her sobriety, even through multiple challenging situations within her family. She started attending college working towards a degree in women’s studies. She continued to develop a stronger relationship with her 5 year old son, who was living with his biological father. She eventually moved into her own housing, near her family in Fresno, with the hopes of graduating from college and reuniting with her other son.
“I had a dream that one day I would be free, mind, body and soul,” Sabrina said. For five years Sabrina, Chuck, and their three children struggled with poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and feelings of hopelessness. For five years they could not hold on to housing and moved from shelter and shelter until Sabrina asked God to give her one more chance.
The chance she was praying for was Sankofa Transitional Housing where Sabrina and Chuck began deeply reviewing their past mistakes, making changes and pulling their family out of poverty. “Being homeless doesn’t mean being hopeless. As long as you keep your head up and handle your business you won’t be homeless for long,” Sabrina says.
Sabrina and Chuck freed themselves from the cycle of homelessness. They found work, and rented an affordable Oakland apartment. They thank BOSS staff for always believing in them, and hope that other homeless families will realize their dream, just like they did.
David had been in and out of Ursula Sherman Village for two years due to moving into an unhealthy living arrangement and then a transitional house closing down. He has had 5 major heart attacks and three open heart surgeries. Due to his substance abuse he lost connection with his children. While in BOSS he found hope again, and secured subsidized housing. He took on a role within the Village community as a Facility Captain, helping to maintain the property at the Village. He tended to his physical health needs, following through with medical appointments that he was previously ignoring. He joined a local gym and decided to finally quit smoking. He made to visit with his children, and thanked staff and his peer community for their support.