The long wait for sleep - Page 3

The Fair Shelter Initiative could reduce endless waiting times at homeless shelters

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People are often forced to sleep on the streets even as beds in the San Francisco's homeless shelters are kept vacant.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY BEN HOPFER

Palmer falls into the category of people who might benefit from a shorter wait time if Kim's initiative were in place. He was just one of many who turned up at the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center — a homeless drop-in center that offers a clinic, shower, and laundry facilities — to watch a movie and eat supper. Two of the others there said they had experienced traumatic brain injuries and had been victims of identity theft. A construction worker explained that he was seeking odd jobs with little luck. Another man shuffled impatiently back and forth as he spoke, scratching incessantly, while he condemned the entire homeless services system as corrupt.

The measure has drawn opposition from Mayor Lee, who is "concerned that changes to Care Not Cash may begin a process that would unravel the program," according to Christine Falvey, Lee's spokesperson. "He wants to make sure we don't do anything to prevent our department from providing the program."

Falvey also noted that Lee was interested in meeting with advocates to find an administrative fix, rather than a ballot initiative, that could address concerns about the shortcomings of the shelter system. Kim expressed some openness to that idea at a hearing, but seemed committed to moving forward with changing the system that's in place. "We do want to address inequity," she said. "There absolutely should be no vacant beds."

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