National Health Center Week: Safe Housing

The sign is familiar to anyone traveling I-580: “California Hotel” lit up in giant letters above a distinctive Mission-style red brick building. You can’t exactly book a reservation in this imposing landmark building, but you can roam the lobby appreciating artwork commemorating performances by the likes of Billie Holiday, James Browne, Aretha Franklin, and Big Mama Thornton.

The California Hotel has seen its share of ups — the first hotel in the area where African American entertainers and guests could stay — and downs, a fall into disrepair in the ‘70s. But the hotel, built in 1929, has survived decades of transformation to become home today to LifeLong’s clients in supportive housing.

The former hotel is just one site in LifeLong’s Supportive Housing Program – or SHP – in Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Oakland. National Health Center week begins on Monday August 6 with Public Health in Housing Day. So it’s a good time to look into what our housing program has to offer.

LifeLong SHP brings health and social services to more than 770 people in subsidized housing at sites in Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Oakland so that tenants with histories of homelessness can achieve housing stability and improve their quality of life.

The program offers primary medical care, behavioral healthcare, outreach, housing stabilization, case management, social services benefit advocacy, and employment/vocational support. SHP is administered by LifeLong’s Homeless Services and its Director, Ryan Wythe.

The California Hotel has the distinction of being an historic landmark registered on the National Register of Historic Places, and the interior is filled with original Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. LifeLong SHP has eight other locations in Oakland, five in Berkeley, and one in El Cerrito.