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The mission of BOSS is to help homeless, poor, and disabled people achieve health and self-sufficiency, and to fight against the root causes of poverty and homelessness. The organization was founded in 1971 by a group of volunteers from the Hillel Streetwork Project in Berkeley who responded to the needs of mentally ill individuals being released to the streets by state hospital closures. Volunteers provided street outreach, crisis intervention, and benefits advocacy to the emerging homeless population. Founding Board Member and civil rights activist Ursula Sherman raised money to pay the first project staff, and the organization was incorporated into a 501c3 nonprofit.
Over the years as the number of homeless people exploded throughout our communities, BOSS expanded County-wide, adding programs in response to changing needs: emergency shelters, transitional houses, education and employment programs, family and child development services, health and mental health care programs, leadership development and organizing initiatives, re-entry initiatives, and more.
Today BOSS is an award-winning organization that helps people who are facing deep poverty and multiple special needs. BOSS works one-on-one with each family and each individual to help them achieve stable income, permanent affordable housing, and lasting wellness.