San Francisco's untouchables - Page 2

Is San Francisco trying to help the homeless -- or drive them away?

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GUARDIAN PHOTO

That theory was thoroughly debunked in a Board of Supervisors committee hearing on Feb. 5.

"The idea of services as a magnet, ... we haven't seen any empirical data to support that," noted Peter Connery of Applied Survey Research, a consultant that conducted the city's most recent homeless count. "The numbers in San Francisco are very consistent with the other communities."

He went on to address the question on everyone's mind: Why haven't the numbers decreased? "Even in this environment where there have obviously been a tremendous number of successes in various departments and programs," Connery said, "this has been a very tough economic period. Just to stay flat represents a huge success in this environment."

As former President Bill Clinton's campaign team used to say: It's the economy, stupid.

 

LIFE OUTSIDE

For Sabrina, it started with mental health problems and drug addiction. She grew up in Oakland, the daughter of a single mom who worked as a housecleaner.

"Drugs led me the wrong way, and eventually caught up with me," she explained at the soup kitchen while cradling Lily, her Chihuahua-terrier mix.

"I had nothing, at first. You have to learn to pick things up. Eventually, I got some blankets," she said. But she was vulnerable. "It can get kind of mean. The streets can be mean — especially to the ladies."

She found her way to A Woman's Place, a shelter. Then she completed a five-month drug rehab program and now she has housing at a single room occupancy hotel on Sixth Street.

"You don't realize how important those places are," she said, crediting entry into the shelter and the drug-rehab program with her recovery.

Since the 10-year plan went into effect, Coalition on Homelessness Director Jennifer Friedenbach told us, emergency services for homeless people have been dramatically scaled back. Since 2004, "We lost about a third of our shelter beds," she explained. About half of the city's drop-in center capacity was also slashed.

"Between 2007 to 2011, we had about $40 million in direct cuts to behavioral health," she said at the Feb. 5 hearing, seizing on the lack of mental health care, one of the key challenges to reducing homelessness.

"The result of all three of these things, I can't really put into words. It's been very dramatically negative. The increase in acuity, impact on health," she said, "those cannot be overstated."

The need for shelters is pressing. The city has provided funding for a new shelter for LGBT homeless people and a second one in the Bayview, but it hasn't kept up with demand. And for those who lack shelter, life is about navigating one dilemma after another, trying to prevent little problems from snowballing into something heinous.

Consider recent skirmishes that have arisen around the criminalization of homelessness. Department of Public Works street cleaning crews have sprayed homeless people trying to rest on Market Street. Sitting or lying on the sidewalk can result in a ticket. There are few public restrooms, but urinating on the street can result in a ticket. There are no showers, but anyone caught washing up in the library bathroom could be banned from the premises. Sleeping in a park overnight is illegal.

"The bad things that happen are when people don't see homeless people as people," said Bevan Dufty, the mayor's point person on homelessness. "That's the core of it — to be moved away, to be pushed away, citing people, arresting people."

Friedenbach said the tickets and criminalization can ultimately amount to a barrier to ending homelessness: "You're homeless, so you get a ticket, so they won't give you housing, because you wouldn't pay the ticket. And so, you're stuck on the streets."

 

Comments

They come here because out services are too generous.

If we want them to leave, and most do, then we need to scale back out help to them, so that they move to other more generous cities

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

There are vast numbers of homeless people in every city in the USA regardless of the level of services.

And go figure, the problem of homelessness increases as incomes, employment and funding for public and subsidized housing declines.

The complaints from the liberals in her district to Supervisor Kim show clearly the process towards dehumanization and atrocities.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 10:42 am

similar size. We're spending too much and need to spend less.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 11:44 am

we should drive you away from the city with such a nasty attitude... go back and take your google bus far away from us !

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

We need to cut spending on the homeless to encourage them to go elsewhere.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

We need to cut subsidies to techies to encourage them to go elsewhere.

Posted by Randall Chenery on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

The homeless do not.

You need a tax base if you are going to throw money at the homeless

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

You don't know any homeless people.

Most homeless people want to be left alone by squares like you.

Homeless people are acutely aware of their personal powerlessness in this society that worships power.

Homeless people aren't asking to have money thrown at them.

It's guilt money, and most of it never even makes it to the homeless people it's meant to help.

You can keep all those sparkly bits you covet and adore so ardently.

Posted by Randall Chenery on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

I was just refuting your dumb comment. Homeless people consume wealth - techies generate wealth.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

Randall, first, it's not the early 1950's, no one says "squares" anymore (except perhaps your great-grandfather). Second, most (though certainly not all) homeless people are mentally ill and/or drug or alcohol addicted (often because they are self-medicating for their mental illness). What they need is not to be left alone, but to receive mental health services, other medical treatment, and supportive care. Some homeless people can transition into independent living, and others need long-term care in a residential treatment facility.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

That's a myth. It's more like 13-15% from the source I cite below. Another common myth is that most homeless people don't work.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/09/AR201007...

One thing that virtually all homeless people do have in common -they're POOR!!! And there are more and more of them as the 1% have sucked up more and more of the country's wealth. Half of America now lives below or near the poverty line. Most people have no savings. Many are one paycheck away from homelessness.

Poor people need social services and MONEY, something that Gavin Newsom took away a few years ago, what little cash assistance we did give to the poor. It disgusts me that a rich man built his whole campaign around taking money from poor people. Most of all, we need to restructure the economy to value human beings over profit.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

You cite an editorial by a professor in which he claims based on his research most people are not homeless---that means about nothing.

If you actually read the abstract of his study, he backs his proposition by criticizing the lack of large scale studies done on the homeless population and certain problems with old studies done in the 1980's, which is all fine and well.

But, his supposed rebuttal to the claim that most homeless persons are mentally illl is primarily based on a single study done in Philadelphia which used shelter records to conclude that only 18% of homeless adults without children had received treatment for severe mental illness. Think about what that means....

The study is really saying that of the people studied who went to shelters that kept records in Philadelphia only 18% had received treatment for severe mental illness, it does NOT say that only 18% of these individual were in fact mentally ill or not. What the study suggest to me is that homeless people are not getting mental health treatment, not that they are not mentally ill. Even the professor says in his own article: "It is surely significant that the shelter admission rate of persons with serious mental illness is more than three times that of the general population." And even this statement is incorrect because the study simply showed whether people had received treatment for severe mental illness, not whether they were mentally ill.

I'm on the board of local not-for-profit that serves the homeless and most of the individuals served are either mentally ill and/or suffering from drug or alcohol addiction (many, though, not all dual-diagnosed). Yes, they are poor, but what they are also is mentally ill and addicted. They need treatment, education, financial planning skills and a whole host of other services to be able to be independent individuals. Being poor can increase the likelihood of mental illness, lacking eduction, etc, but it is also often a symptom of of these conditions, too. In other words, you cannot give a job to someone who cannot function in a job. What most (not all) homeless people need are mental health services, addiction counseling services, education, job training, and a host of other supportive services if they are to live independent lives.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

So your 'on the board', huh?

Does that mean you spend many hours reading reports, surfing the web, raising funds, and doing meetings?

Not so many hours interacting with real homeless people on the real streets of San Francisco?

I'll get back to you when your opinion becomes relevant.

Posted by Eastside Clyde Townsend on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 4:52 am

Well I must say that you don't understand. I have an MBA. I'm poor. Why? I have not found a full time job since 2007. If it was't for my mother, I'd be homeless. that's right. Do I have a mental illness? NO. Do I drink? NO. I don't have a drinking problem. I don't have any mental illness. The simple problem is, there is not enough jobs to go around and when someone losses his or her job (if the person does not know someone so the person can sleep on a couch for free and if the person does not secure employment in a given amount of time - set often by the family member) then guess what happens?

Do you expect the family member (say an uncle or grandmother) of the now homeless person that lost his job, and lost his car (repo since he lost his job) and now has no income whatsoever . do you expect that family member to say "Okay Sue, you lost your job, sure you can live here rent free for 2 years". No way. It won't happen. I'd say most family members give the other person 6 months to find a job and start paying rent or if they can - move out and find an apartment.

you can't do that if there are not enough jobs in a town to hire all of the poor. Again, I'm 38, I'm single and I have an MBA. I'm poor and I live with my mother. If it wasn't for her loving kindness, I'd be homeless. But according to you >>> I have some kind of mental health issues or I'm a drunk.

You are so uneducated it is unreal. Fix the economy and get people jobs, and homelessness will go down. Not all people that are homeless are drunks. I used to feed the homeless on a regular basis for 2 years from 2009 to 2011. I was unemployed at that time too. Did I purchase the food for them? Nope. How could I when my income was from 1099 "jobs" and my income was only $60 a month.

I was the one serving the food. I got to know the homeless. I'd say may be 30% are veterans in this town. I'd say about 20% are doing drugs of some kind. I know of one that is particularly fond of the drink and he has no shame in his game. He pan handles all the time for booze and he turns his head each time me or someone else told him he must go to the Salvation Army to get help. He has been offered a ride from someone so he could get a California ID. (I guess the Salvation Army only helps the homeless if the person has some form of ID. But how does a homeless person put down "an address" if they are homeless"?) Out of all of the homeless in my town, I know of one or two that are flat out - alcoholics and they have no shame in showing it or saying it.

The rest just need a damn job and someone to give them a shower for free since - if you look dirty - no one is going to give you anything - let alone a job. It is a cycle. No money since I have no job. I need money so I can get a shower. I need money to pay someone to do a resume for me. I need a shower to look presentable to employers. Who will give me money for a shower? Did you know that the "mental illness" stuff is not really a "mental illness"? Most of the people in county mental health clinics are POOR and don't have anymore more than a high school education or may be an A.S. degree. People with money are not found in county mental health systems. The poor are always labeled (diagnosis with) a mental health issue. It is bs. Help the poor. That's it. That is the solution. Not getting people "drug treatment" for mental health issues.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

Well I must say that you don't understand. I have an MBA. I'm poor. Why? I have not found a full time job since 2007. If it was't for my mother, I'd be homeless. that's right. Do I have a mental illness? NO. Do I drink? NO. I don't have a drinking problem. I don't have any mental illness. The simple problem is, there is not enough jobs to go around and when someone losses his or her job (if the person does not know someone so the person can sleep on a couch for free and if the person does not secure employment in a given amount of time - set often by the family member) then guess what happens?

Do you expect the family member (say an uncle or grandmother) of the now homeless person that lost his job, and lost his car (repo since he lost his job) and now has no income whatsoever . do you expect that family member to say "Okay Sue, you lost your job, sure you can live here rent free for 2 years". No way. It won't happen. I'd say most family members give the other person 6 months to find a job and start paying rent or if they can - move out and find an apartment.

you can't do that if there are not enough jobs in a town to hire all of the poor. Again, I'm 38, I'm single and I have an MBA. I'm poor and I live with my mother. If it wasn't for her loving kindness, I'd be homeless. But according to you >>> I have some kind of mental health issues or I'm a drunk.

You are so uneducated it is unreal. Fix the economy and get people jobs, and homelessness will go down. Not all people that are homeless are drunks. I used to feed the homeless on a regular basis for 2 years from 2009 to 2011. I was unemployed at that time too. Did I purchase the food for them? Nope. How could I when my income was from 1099 "jobs" and my income was only $60 a month.

I was the one serving the food. I got to know the homeless. I'd say may be 30% are veterans in this town. I'd say about 20% are doing drugs of some kind. I know of one that is particularly fond of the drink and he has no shame in his game. He pan handles all the time for booze and he turns his head each time me or someone else told him he must go to the Salvation Army to get help. He has been offered a ride from someone so he could get a California ID. (I guess the Salvation Army only helps the homeless if the person has some form of ID. But how does a homeless person put down "an address" if they are homeless"?) Out of all of the homeless in my town, I know of one or two that are flat out - alcoholics and they have no shame in showing it or saying it.

The rest just need a damn job and someone to give them a shower for free since - if you look dirty - no one is going to give you anything - let alone a job. It is a cycle. No money since I have no job. I need money so I can get a shower. I need money to pay someone to do a resume for me. I need a shower to look presentable to employers. Who will give me money for a shower? Did you know that the "mental illness" stuff is not really a "mental illness"? Most of the people in county mental health clinics are POOR and don't have anymore more than a high school education or may be an A.S. degree. People with money are not found in county mental health systems. The poor are always labeled (diagnosis with) a mental health issue. It is bs. Help the poor. That's it. That is the solution. Not getting people "drug treatment" for mental health issues.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

People do not "suck up" wealth, they create it ! Wealth is just not sitting around waiting for someone to take it. Even if the 1% and all their wealth did not exist, the poor would still be just as poor, probably even MORE poor.... Economic stupidity and ignorance are rampant if SF !

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 11:39 am

every penny that you have is stolen from someone else who is more acceptable to the left.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

They follow the distribution method of wealth sharing in Cuba.... so there is none!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

Yes, proof from the 60 year wealth distribution experiment in CUBA…. If you try and distribute wealth, it disappears and never comes back.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 8:20 am

There is no 1% in North Korea...how is that working for them ?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

that many of these very equal places have nobody who is successful.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

If we didn't create a society that generates homelessness we wouldn't have to wrench our shoulders "throwing" money at the problem. You elite, self righteous, "know (nothing)-it all" should get your candy ass out and actually talk to these incredible struggling HUMAN beings before you put your keyboard in your mouth.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 11:57 am

They do that all by themselves.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

No society allows them to linger decay slowly, 200 years ago the elements and reality would kill them off fast.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

The truth is forbidden at Bay Guardian, so they delete it.....

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

Why not use Treasure Island for a homeless service center?
1. It is an ex military base which has plenty of space and the possibility of limited access.
2. There is already section 8 housing so N.I.M.Y. should be limited
3. There is the possibility of soil contamination due to improper waste disposal so liability may be a problem.

Posted by Juan on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 6:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

Or coordinate with area cities and house them out somewhere between Patterson and Bakersfield. The cost of living is so cheap there, you could house many more than we do now. Heck we'll even dispense with the burdensome and unrealistic expectation of sobriety and self-improvement for them.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

http://www.tihdi.org/

By federal law homeless outreach (however construed) is part of the realignment of every closed military base. But what you obviously want is for homeless people to disappear to where you never have to see them, as though a fixed number of homeless people exist and have to be moved around to where they are less convenient. Homelessness is constantly made, and it's the result of urban policy that favors the interests of real estate first and foremost.

Posted by John on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 11:20 am

You have NO idea what you are talking about

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 12:01 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

Perhaps if the BOS includes a provision to reassess homes that are converted to income properties (in laws), there would be more money for services. But don't complain about a lack of resources when we are giving away the city to developers for free - one single family home at a time.

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 5:47 am

unless the owner doesn't live there

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 6:13 am

I agree, but the majority of in-law units are non-owner occupied. At least in my neighborhood.

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

and some are in the basement of a SFH.

The former are investment properties; the latter, not.

Anyway SF does not vary the property tax either way

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

Exactly what do you own that you are giving away? Or are you just delusional?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

It's just that some entities pay slightly less fees and taxes than they otherwise would have done.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

live in the surrounding counties, they have no reason to throw money down the drain in an over priced and crowded, cold, pretentious city that offers nothing to middle income workers.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 6:01 am

Or aren't you even middle income?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 6:16 am

wow, reading some of the comments above make me realize just how much the city has changed. I was homeless is the Haight and Mission in the early 90's, and while it wasn't the easiest time of my life, I definitely didn't feel the hatred that is expressed here. all of you people commenting about "flame throwers" and "shipping 'them' to Oakland" should thank someone or something that you can afford to have a roof over you head. do you even think that the homeless people interviewed in this article wouldn't change their situation if they could? San Franciscans (for the most part) used to have a little empathy. now, after reading this, I'm glad I decided to move.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

A few nights camping out in GGPark or sleeping in your vehicle between jobs doesn't count. It is those who make it a lifestyle choice who should not be pandered to, let alone have money thrown at them.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

I thank myself and my hard work and intelligence for the roof over my head...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 11:41 am

You should thank the people who raised you for not sexually and physically assaulting you. You should thank them for giving you the examples and support you needed to succeed. This is not the stories I hear from the homeless I serve. Yes serve.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

People from the best backgrounds can fail.

It is individual effort and willpower that makes the most difference.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

Please…. like you have a clue the crap I went through as a child! BUT I FIXED MY OWN MESS. Which is why I'm not one of tour "clients". Nothing but self empowered ever will fix that stuff , you are just pissing in the wind with your "clients"

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

We are glad you moved too and wish all homeless did so too

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 11:42 am

If a person has alcohol or drug problems (and most of the "homeless" I see do), then there is nothing that can be done, UNTIL they are ready to help themselves.

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

Regarding the homeless with dogs who beg. They cannot take care of themselves yet they expect society to take care of them AND their pets? A program of spay and neuter would be more appropriate than social services as those homeless are clueless when comes to taking personal responsibility for themselves.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

San Francisco loves homeless. Ask the residence at the Rene Cazenave Apartments.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 11:28 pm

The homeless, the addicted and the mentally have overrun this city. I've lived here for 15 years and everyday the bum/crackhead tweaker/mentally ill issue gets worse and worse. Cities everywhere in America are giving their problems tickets to SF, not just because of the climate but because of the GA. Its also given gangs of idiots from the east bay a built in clientèle to sell drugs to. Look at mid market (hell, all of market st) civic center, turk and taylor, ofarrell and jones...its like Barnum and Bailey meets the wire. Our streets are paved with feces. Everyday I see regular people with kids have to navigate around things I cant even call people shooting up or smoking meth or crack openly in broad daylight. Too many violent incidents, too much rampant idiocy. Its ruined the quality of life here.

I'm not heartless but enough is enough. Without strong measures being taken this city will be inundated with crime, bums and an overwhelming amount of weird (and not in that good SF way) that will make it not worth the cost of opening up businesses or going to school here. Our rents are the highest in the nation...if we are expected to spend small fortunes on living here there has to be equivocal exchange. Giving money to people for being down and out hasnt exactly worked out. Trying to be kind to people who dont care about themselves or any one of us has proven to be a waste of time. Ignoring all the mentally ill has really backfired. I personally have seen acts committed by homeless people that go beyond the unspeakable (roommate stabbed 16 times while at work for instance). While I realize these individuals have had a rough life, I find myself unsympathetic to their struggles because of everything Ive experiended here and Im sure Im not alone in this.

Talk is cheap. Its time for strong action...we have way too many drug addicts and bums f###ing up our city.

Posted by Shad0w on Mar. 28, 2014 @ 10:06 am

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