Monday, August 20, 2007

The Shame of the City

Stanley Roberts of KRON 4 followed a couple of Panhandlers around San Francisco to see what they do with the money they make Panhandling. What was found was very disturbing:

The problem is so entrenched, it spans a generation. San Francisco has struggled since the early 1980s with a population of homeless people that mushrooms annually despite every effort to reduce it -- from the police-heavy Matrix program of the early 1990s to the stalled Continuum of Care proposal. Today, there are 15,000 homeless people in the city, and 5,000 of them are hard core.

Do something. Do nothing. Tell panhadlers to go to Glide!

Glide Memorial Methodist Church is a supportive housing complex that runs 950 supportive housing units in renovated hotels and is eager to help. Other Ideas: Vote; Letters; Phone Calls; Blog; Vigilante; Organize; Protest; Revolt?

-- Gavin Newsom: Mayor of San Francisco. Newsom's Care Not Cash initiatives treat the most-troubled homeless people directly routing them into "supportive housing" with counseling services for substance abuse and mental problems. Unfortunately, it's been four years and Gavin's number one priority is growing worse, not better!

-- Trent Rhorer: Executive director of the Department of Human Services. Rhorer oversees the city's shelter and welfare programs and a $500 million budget. He has an extensive background in social services, worked as chief of staff for the prior Human Services director and has worked in San Francisco's nonprofit sector.

-- Dariush Kayhan: Rhorer's director of housing and programs for homeless people. Kayhan manages shelter operations and the city's program of leasing rooms in privately owned residential hotels and offering "supportive housing," in which counseling and other services are provided on-site for the hard-core homeless people.

-- Mitch Katz: Director of the Department of Public Health. He oversees San Francisco General Hospital and other clinics that are the primary caregivers for homeless people. Newsom needs Katz's expertise to rein in the spiraling costs of medical treatment.

-- Angela Alioto: Former city supervisor. She endorsed Newsom for mayor after her own losing bid and is now an adviser to the mayor on homelessness issues. Alioto wrote Proposition J, which was passed by voters in November and requires the city to provide separate shelters for homeless seniors, youth, families and the disabled. Newsom wants her to help oversee its enactment.

-- Marc Trotz: Katz' director of housing and urban health. He runs the department's Direct Access to Housing program, considered by federal officials to be the nation's finest example of supportive housing.

-- The Rev. John Hardin: Director of the St. Anthony Foundation. The foundation's nonprofit facility in the Tenderloin runs the city's oldest soup kitchen, and over the past year he has been holding talks with business leaders to try to ease hostilities between them and homeless people.

-- Paul Boden: Leader of the Coalition on Homelessness. Boden's group is the most active and outspoken advocacy group for the homeless -- the coalition can quickly pack a hearing with stinky demonstrators if they think homeless rights to live on our sidewalks are at risk.

-- Carol Lamont: Head of community development programs at the San Francisco Foundation.

-- Cassandra Benjamin: Head of homelessness programs at the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation. Lamont and Benjamin have led efforts by philanthropic groups to help San Francisco work on strategy with other cities and counties and attract private funding.

-- John Hutar: President of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. The council, which represents 55 mostly upscale hotels, ran a billboard campaign last year saying homeless people had an adverse effect on tourism. Hutar says he is willing to work with anyone, including advocates for the homeless who were infuriated by the billboards, if it results in solutions.

-- Chris Daly: Absolute Failure.

-- Matt Gonzalez: Green Party Pooper.

-- Carla Javitz: National coordinator for the Corporation for Supportive Housing's Bay Area office. Javitz and her staff are among the nation's leading experts on developing supportive housing, and their advice led Newsom to propose a $150 million bond measure to build more supportive housing.

Adapted from: Shame of the City - Chance to solve homeless crisis by Chronicle's Kevin Fagan

No comments: